Creating female-centric circus

Alula Cyr - Mark Dawson Photography
Alula Cyr - Mark Dawson Photography

The world’s first all-female Cyr wheel trio Alula Cyr bring their mix of acrobatics, dance and song to The Old Market, Brighton on March 4 with their debut production, Hyena.

As part of their mission to create more female-centric circus, Alula Cyr are promising a show about beauty, strength and the thrill of the physical.

Hyena intends to strengthen and unite women through contemporary circus, explains performer Lil Rice.

It all revolves around the Cyr wheel, an acrobatic apparatus that consists of a single large ring. It was reinvented, as Lil explains, by a man named Cyr in 1996.

“He made it into this amazing piece of equipment. It is very dynamic. There are so many different things you can do with it, and with the three of us, there are many, many more things we can do. We can work out new routines, creating structures between us.

“And for this, we have made a new show called Hyena which is about fierce female friendship.

“We have been looking at the matriarchy of the brown-spotted hyenas who live in a very complex hierarchy, with the pack run by the women. We were looking into doing a show, and it was going to be about the pack mentality, and so we started researching it and we came up with these animals that complemented what we wanted to do.

“What we wanted to look at was the three of us as individuals coming together and making a piece where we bring our individuality into that pack idea.

“We looked at the animal movement, looked at the way brown-spotted hyenas acted and looked at the whole idea of their lives. But after that, it is about the three of us as friends, how we support each other and help each other grow. There is a competitiveness there, but it is a healthy competitiveness that helps us all progress. We have scenes that are quite animal-like, scenes of marking our territory. It is about competitiveness and it works on a number of different levels.

“We started making this two and a half years ago and we performed it on South Bank last June.

“Since then we have also performed it in Sweden, and now we are starting on our tour.”

It is proving a transportable show.

“With a Cyr wheel, you don’t need aerial points. It is all ground based.

“We just need a large and flat area, but we can do it in all sorts of ways, end on, front on, in the round. It just needs to be large and flat.”