If They Really Knew Us - Flight Lab 2.0

Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

18/08/2017 - 19/08/2017

Production Details

If They Really Knew Us…(Flight Lab 2.0) is a collaborative work developed by the performers of HighJinx Aerial Arts Youth Company and young musicians from the Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa. The show explores unique relationships between music and circus arts to reveal insights to the young performer’s identities and experiences. Featuring all original music and incredible visuals If They Really Knew Us weaves together storytelling, physical theatre, dance, circus and live music

Warning: Some mature language and thematic content 


Creators: Carlene Newall de Jesus, David Atai, Marcus Powell and Eve Gordon
Performers: HighJinx Aerial Arts Youth Company and Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa
Lighting Design: Ariana Shipman
Rigging: Rob McDonald

Produced by; The Dust Palace Circus Theatre Company

Youth , Musical , Dance-theatre , Dance , Cirque-aerial-theatre , Circus ,

A continuous reel of personal stories

Review by Chloe Klein 23rd Aug 2017

If They Really Knew Us… Flight Lab 2.0 brings together the youth of HighJinx Aerial Arts Youth Company and The Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa at the Mangere Arts Centre to share their stories and the product of their collaboration. Circus, music, and dance are woven together in an emotive performance.

We enter to a pre-set theatre divided into scenes- there’s a furnished teenage bedroom on each side of the stage, safety mats under an aerial hammock, and band gear- each scene distinguished and melding into the next through lighting. This division of space sets the narrative of the performance, the cast moving through worlds and states across the stage. With the help of clever lighting, vignettes appear and disappear as equipment and props slide one place to the next.

If They Really Knew Us is a s, many of which contain emotionally heavy themes and content. We are taken through friendship, exclusion, misunderstanding, confusion and self-doubt, broken relationships, power and powerlessness, bullying, and feeling trapped, as well as empowerment, togetherness, and hope. It is a curation of chapters, each a personal insight from the performers, a vulnerable offering of their voices for us to share in. It isn’t a call to action, a critique, or even a suggestion, it’s an unapologetic and genuine expression of identity both in the individual and corporate.

Despite the emotional themes, the transitions between chapters are refreshingly gentle. Moments and thoughts draw to natural closes and new ideas are grown organically. The performers play an integral part in these transitions, signalling closes and openings with artistry and professionalism.

The programme complements and reflects the show, a double-sided collection of doodles and names collated to create a bigger and yet still so personal picture.

The stories of If They Really Knew Us are brought to life through music, dance, and circus performance. All three disciplines are integrated thoughtfully. It’s satisfying to see young people so successfully navigate interdisciplinary collaboration. The musicians and circus artists are attentive to one another and work as a team.

The talent and performance from the Crescendo Trust Aotearoa team is exceptional. The all-female rock trio Angels of Troy play up a proggy storm (more please!), and diverse and conversational vocals, and honest composition provides context to each segment. Throughout the work, we hear powerful and passionate voices, also in the form of explosive rap in some segments.

The circus arts elements performed by HighJinx are stunning to watch. The performers are confident with a variety or apparatus’ and at no point do I feel nervous. Silks, aerial chairs, static trapeze, aerial straps and lyras are used, as well as floorwork. The HighJinx performers display stunning flexibility, agility, and strength throughout the work, and are attuned to their musical co-performers. The use of the apparatus’ is creatively developed, not a parade of tricks, but relevant to the progression of and connection to the themes at hand.

The final chapter in the programme is a group ensemble created as a response to HighJinx’s recent concerning and highly publicised encounter with rugby fans when performing as a part of the Lions Tour festivities. Concluding such an honest and vulnerable programme, the message- “I might be small but my voice is loud”- hits home. Muted movement to audio clips of media coverage builds into solidarity, confidence and hope as the dancers, who sing themselves, are joined by singers and rappers in a full cast finale. 


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