Chill out for a Mindful May


Classical music and aerial circus unite in Skyward, an experience designed to slow and calm audiences at this year’s Anywhere Festival, for two performances at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The concept was created by friends, aerialist Georgia Bale and soprano Jo Willans, who wanted to offer something unusual for Anywhere audiences during May. “We’re having a Mindful May,” says the show’s creator, Jo Willans, “And we wanted to share an experience with our audience that would be uplifting and chilled. Mental health is something people are increasingly aware of and a Mindful May is an opportunity to find a bit more peace.” 

Having a Mindful May involves spending time in meditative and contemplative practices like meditation and yoga, for better mental, physical and spiritual health. Skyward brings together beautiful and expressive aerial choreography with live music that is designed to uplift its audience. “We’ve handpicked our soundtrack for its lyrical content and for beauty and simplicity. We’ve chosen music from twentieth century composers, including Copland, Barber and Previn, as well as minimalists like Arvo Pärt and Michael Nyman. The music is uplifting and has a mesmerising quality that is perfect for achieving a contemplative state of mind.” 

Aerialist Georgia Bale trains with Vulcana Women’s Circus and will apply her skills across a variety of aerial apparatus, including her favourite apparatus, lyra, a metal hoop that is suspended. “Some of the songs call for fast spinning and momentum while others need a softer touch, and so we’re using other apparatus like tissu,” says Bale. “We’re using an array of apparatus and physical theatre to capture the mood of each piece, and I’m working with Jo to get her singing on one of the apparatus.” Singing and circus is what brought the two women together. “I never thought that I would be the one singing on the apparatus,” says Willans. “We’ve had a lot of fun, but I have definitely ruled out running away with the circus!” 

Skyward is the third Anywhere show that Brisbane producer Republic of Song has presented at the Festival. Last year, The Ballad of Rosie Quinn, a dark, blindfolded play about the women of Brisbane’s convict past received glowing reviews and won a Reviewer’s Pick Award from the Festival. Willans says, “Skyward is a return to our musical roots, with a bit of a difference. We started with an opera - Menotti’s The Medium in 2016 - and this year we’re returning to classical music. Classical music and circus are natural partners and we’re excited to explore something new.”

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