Are limits real or imaginary? Are they a dead end, or a motivation to search for new paths?
In classic Cirkus Cirkör style, Limits will turn perspectives on their heads. With energy, a focus on what is possible a world of fleeing, migration and new frontiers is balanced against the artists's individual limits in terms of risk, pain and of the body.
Stepping over boundaries is hard without moments of chaos and disorder, but the state of today's world demands new approaches!
Limits is conceived and directed Tilde Björfors. Limits’ ensemble and creative team is co-creators of the production.
Limits was partly developed in residence at The Watermill Center, USA – a laboratory for performance – during the fall of 2015, as well as in residence at Västmanland's Teater in the spring of 2016.
Limits is coproduction with Archaos, Pôle National des Arts du Cirque Méditerranée. Limits is the sequel to Borders, performed at Malmö City Theatre in May and June, 2015.
Anything is possible! Boundaries are meant to be crossed. Limits are meant to be exceeded! We human beings can do so much more than we believe, if we dare to challenge our limitations! That was the feeling I had when I giddily walked out from my first-ever contemporary circus show, the French group Archaos' guest performance in Stockholm when I was in my 20s.
In France, a few years later, I understood that this was not an isolated event but part of an established art form – Cirque Nouveau. Here, the boundaries of the possible were being pushed. Here, there were practice facilities and even a contemporary circus college. Imagine if this had existed in Sweden when I was growing up? What would my life have been like then?
Maybe the fact that I was a fairly frightened person was what made the boundary-pushing inspiration of contemporary circus so important to me. If this could make me want to be more daring, there were likely others who felt the same. My friends and I began dreaming of bringing contemporary circus to Sweden.
The journey from being a few naive, young people with a dream to what Cirkör is today (in the media often referred to as a ”circus empire”) has been at once a tumble dryer and a roller coaster. Loads of hard work, risk-taking, sore muscles and growing pains mixed with magical moments. If there's one thing we've seen proof of time and again, it's that human beings have so much more capacity than we think. At Cirkör, we have created our own and other peoples' jobs within a field that no politician nor recruiter could have imagined. We have seen dreams become reality, the fearful become fearless, the lost find themselves focused, chaos be transformed into order and control issues morph into trust.
For several years now, in collaboration with brain researchers and circus artists, I've been trying to understand how boundary-crossing works. Absolutely crucial to those of us who defy a limit, create something new or go where no one else has ventured is whether we are focused on the risk or on the possibility.
During the fall of 2015, I was one of many people in Sweden who tried to welcome displaced people in a spirit of common humanity. I was involved in establishing a transitional housing facility and also opened my own home. Hundreds of people. Hundreds of boundary-crossers. Every encounter a new story, a personal tragedy. I became aware of limitations within myself and society. Several times, I felt that I could not take in any more. There was no room. But every time I started to shut my door, one of the most vulnerable souls showed me there was still hope. It felt as if my heart was stretching and growing a little. Suddenly there was room for more! Contrary to what we often claim, our boundaries are supple. Both our hearts and our brains have an innate capacity for growth.
There's a big difference between a circus performer who takes risks of their own free will, and an individual fleeing for their life. Someone fleeing has no choice. Yet the way they handle risk is the same. A person fleeing knows what it's like to be afraid, while at once being brave. They know that when you venture out into the unknown, it is only the belief that it is possible that keeps you going. That faith in oneself and others is a necessity; there is no other choice. Planning, preparation and organization are all good, but to be able to handle all the unforeseen things that arise, it is even more important to be present in the moment.
It is shocking to watch Europe close border after border, when our circus has dedicated the last 20 years to pushing boundaries. The word “circus” is often used disparagingly, but I think the opposite is true – the world should practice more circus!
Play with the idea of the world as a body. . . Imagine that the task facing this world-body is to learn a new, advanced circus stunt. It is my conviction that if we exercise our world-body, we will become better at dealing with the risks instead of, as is now the case, focusing so hard on them that we become inhuman. No one is forcing us, but we can choose to accept this challenge! And yes, for a while chaos will likely ensue, and our current order will be jolted a bit. There is always a moment of disorder when something new is created and our brain neurons have to connect new paths. But if we all stretch a little, perhaps we can transform these risks into possibilities for all of us. If we look in history's rearview mirror, good things have generally come out of change. And usually, it is those who succeeded in maintaining a humane & compassionate perspective that we remember with respect! Imagine what the world might have been like if no one had ever taken a risk. At times a little breathing room might be a good thing. But to deal with the challenges we now face, it's about time we get our Sweden-body into intensive training.
"Limits is ultimately a mesmerizing, thought-provoking night of theater."
"... an agenda to soften hearts about strict border policies" /.../ "this mission leads to fascinating art."
"Exquisite circus poetry"
Press quotes about Limits
Meaghan Hannan Davant, DC Theatre Scene
Nelson Pressley, Washington Post
Saara Ahola – acrobatics, aerial acrobatic, vocals
Anton Graaf – acrobatics, teeterboard
Einar Kling-Odencrants – acrobatics, teeterboard
Manda Rydman – handstand, contortion
Peter Åberg – acrobatics, juggling, vocals
Samuel “LoopTok” Andersson – musician
Director and concept: Tilde Björfors
Text: Tilde Björfors, the ensemble, Nadia Ben Belgacem, Arash Dehvari, Kajsa Bohlin, Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga, Qutaiba Aldahwa, Javid Heidari
Composer: Samuel ”Looptok” Andersson
Set design: Fanny Senocq, Stefan ”Drake” Karlström, Joel Jedström, Tilde Björfors
Costume design: Jonna Bergelin
Video scenography/projections: Johannes Ferm Winkler, Tom Waldton and Per Rydnert/Visual Relief
Lighting design: Fredrik Ekström
Sound technician: Fredrik ”Börje” Danielsson
Voice-over: Qutaiba Aldahwa,Javid Heidari
Choreography: Olle Strandberg
Make up design: Madelene Söderblom
Costume production: Hilda Junker, Jonna Bergelin, Emilia Esping
Constructions: Joel Jedström
Assistant director: Maria Wallin, with support of Alexander Weibel Weibel
Assistant set and costume design: Emilia Esping
Filmed material: Malin Nicander, BLAM Ateliers, Visual ReliefResearcher: Pinja Lehtonen
Artistic coach: Alexander Weibel Weibel
Vocal coach/ vocal arrangements: Maja Långbacka
Sound/video: Joakim BjörklundStage/truss: Kasper Holm
Lights: Fredrik Ekström /Casper Wijlhuizen
Tour manager: Irene Ramilli
Technical manager: Stefan ”Drake” Karlström
Production managers: Amy Fee, Sara de Vylder
Limits’ ensemble has worked across boundaries as co-creators of the production.