You are watching a circus performance. The artists, for whatever reason, have a noticeable number of technical errors. The overall show remains cohesive, technical and artistic mastery are consistently displayed. Are you impressed by their ability to re-center and continue with the show? Or do you feel betrayed as a member of the audience, that you were witness to failed attempts? Participants in the Concordia Field Seminar were passionately divided after seeing Compagnie XY’s premiere during the 2017 Montréal Complètement Cirque festival.
These artists have trained hard to achieve enough skills to mediate the level of risk. Ideally, the skills and risk are balanced: not too much risk if your skills aren’t very advanced. At each step, the level of challenge should increase to a place where the artist, using their mental and physical focus, can achieve the harder movements. This is what creativity researcher Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi describes as the experience of flow, an “ordering of the consciousness” because all resources (mental, physical, emotional) are being put towards the accomplishment of one task. When circus artists undertake exceptional tasks with focus and confidence, it permits the audience to enjoy the show because we see that the risk is mediated with expertise.
Link to Full Article at Spider Web Show.