Cirkus Cirkör is like no other circus group. The artists juggle with body liquids, balance on neurons and hang in DNA threads. Photo: Mats Bäcker
Inside Out is a follow-up of Cirkus Cirkör’s previous performance, 99 % unknown. It mixes contemporary circus with medical science by exploring the mysterious processes that take place inside and outside the body. The show opened in September 2008 in Lund in the south of Sweden and came to Stockholm in December.
Against a background of footage from inside the human body, the circus artists play the roles of various body parts. Acrobats challenge gravity and try to convey what it’s like to be a strand of DNA or a red blood cell rushing through the body. The show is accompanied by Irya’s Playground, a rock band that makes music inspired by the sounds of our bodies.
In the creation of both Inside Out and 99% unknown, Cirkus Cirkör has collaborated with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, one of Europe's largest medical universities. When scientific knowledge met Cirkus Cirkör’s creative world, new ideas were born about how to present scientific advancements and make people relate to them.
A young circus manager
When the circus started in 1995, they had no resources in terms of money. There was, however, an unlimited supply of energy and desire. These could be the elements that have made this particular circus so successful. Not to mention a very special circus manager.
Tilde Björfors is only in her thirties, but her track record is long. She was the kid who didn’t fit in at school. Her highest dream was to become a circus trapeze artist. Björfors moved from Stockholm to Paris and became completely spellbound by the contemporary circus she saw at the city's underground venues; a circus that combined traditional techniques with new ideas and modern culture.
When Björfors realized that she would never become a top circus artist herself, she began to arrange performances. At the age of 24, she could call herself a circus manager, with her own ensemble in Sweden.
Cirkus Cirkör's first show was called Skapelsen (The Creation), followed by their first major production, Ur kaos föds allting (Everything Derives from Chaos). The latter says a lot about the attitude held by Björfors and her colleagues; a little chaos is nothing to be afraid of. Nor is there any harm in being afraid. Most important is to not let fear get in your way. Sure, you might fail, but even failure can be a step forward — if you learn something from it.
Cirkus Cirkör has arranged countless productions since 1995. This includes their own shows, collaborations with theatres and hip-hop artists as well as performances for companies. There have been tours in Europe and Asia. The list is long.
What does a virus attack or a stem cell look like on stage? Cirkus Cirkör looks for answers inside and outside the human body. Photo: Mats Bäcker
Cirkus Cirkör received one of their most prestigious commissions in 2002, when Cirkus Cirkör took charge of the entertainment at the magnificent Nobel banquet at Stockholm City Hall. Artistic brilliance was combined with playfulness, humor and warmth, without becoming pretentious. This style is typical of Cirkus Cirkör's work and, at least superficially, is the most typically Swedish in the circus world, which otherwise is characterized by collaboration across all borders.
A circus school of its own
A while back, Cirkus Cirkör moved out of central Stockholm to the Municipality of Botkyrka, and the suburb Alby. This is the headquarters of Cirkus Cirkör, which now has branches throughout Sweden. In 2000, Cirkus Cirkör's circus school attracted over 30,000 children and youths. The division Cirkuspiloterna is regarded as one of the three best circus educational programs in the world, along with the schools in Montreal, Canada, and Châlons, France.
The human body is a mystery. Cirkus Cirkör enters it armed with a thousand questions. Photo: Mats Bäcker
There are circus courses and circus camps. A circus program is run at a high school, and higher education is offered for circus artists. Children, people with disabilities, professionals — they each have their own particular place. Each group is of equal importance. This is where dreams are brought to life and hope is offered to youths who might otherwise have given up. Using Björfors as an example, they show that nothing is impossible. No less impossible than balancing on a tightrope.
Cirkus Cirkör believes that together, science and arts can change the world. Again, nothing is impossible. Walking a tightrope really can be done.
Yasemin Bayramoglu has been working as a journalist for daily newspapers and magazines since 1987. She combines writing for the magazine Föräldrar & barn (Parents and Children) with freelance work.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
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