Backbone is a stunning display of gravity-defying acrobatics

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Backbone | Gravity and Other Myths | The Cultch | Vancouver Playhouse | October 30 – November 4, 2018

With effusive energy and a playful sense of humour, this Australian troupe performed death defying feats and beautifully choreographed acrobatic sequences. A live band accompanied them with lively beats, and there was never a dull moment with a busy stage and jaw-dropping acts.

Not only are these performers extremely impressive for their physical feats, but the artistry in their sequences is stunning. In one scene, they moved as if forming the cogs and levers of a pinball machine or an intricate Rube Goldberg machine of chain reactions. It was beautiful and fascinating to watch.

Other acts involved a bit of nail biting as one performer lay atop poles held by the others. One by one, they removed the supports until she was balanced high on top of one single pole pressed into her back. Later, they formed a large human pyramid while all wearing metal buckets on their heads, and at one point they played with a human skipping rope and lifted another troupe member up and down as if she were a human parachute.

Their sense of humour shone through many times, especially during a segment where they all stood in a line behind a rope and took turns counting until two of them spoke at once. Those two people stood as the rest of the troupe walked forward and did a handstand over the rope all at once, letting it snap back to hit the two who had been disqualified. They repeated this process of elimination until one of them returned wearing a suit of armour — this got a lot of laughs.

Creative props, artful choreography, dazzling lighting design, and a playful attitude made this a spectacular show. These acrobats truly do defy gravity as they tossed each other effortlessly, created four person tall towers, and flipped and tumbled with rarified grace and agility. Simply stunning.

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