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A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW.

Byline: KATHRYN WILLIAMS

For the past two weeks, audiences in the Space Ship Big Top in Cardiff Bay have been enthralled by the antics of the performers in Nofitstate Circus' new show, Tabu. Reporter KATHRYN WILLIAMS tried her hand at some of the simpler circus acts to see if she could cut it at the Big Top I'D NEVER thought of running away and joining the circus until this week, and even now I'm not so sure.

Performing mid-air backflips and rolling around in a man-sized hamster wheel (that's the best way I can describe it) is not normally how I'd spend a Wednesday afternoon - but this week, it was different.

I'd been invited to have a go at a few circus skills by the Nofitstate Circus, currently performing its Tabu show at the special Space Ship Big Top outside the Wales Millennium Centre. I'd been told I would have a go at the trapeze, but on hearing that a pilates teacher and regular yoga-lover had struggled, maybe it wasn't a such good idea, as I have the upper body strength of a gnat!

The bright pink big top was not as I expected with rigs and pullies all around, making sure that the audience is as close to the action as possible.

In my bright green tracksuit bottoms I decided that the suspended bungee rope was more my style and was promptly strapped into a VERY tight harness to support my weight.

Saul Baum, one of the riggers, was on hand to ensure I was secure and was a brave man to pull me into the air ready to start my bungee challenge.

And it was a challenge. I find it amazing that performers have the strength to gain such momentum on this contraption.

All the more amazing is that it's probably one of the simpler stunts of the show, which amazes audiences with trapeze tricks, tight-wire acts and many more amazing aerial stunts which have to be seen to be believed.

Once I was about five metres into the air it dawned on me that I would have to actually do some work myself if I was to get the full benefit of this experience.

Just the simple movement of bouncing up and down meant me having to pull on the bungee ropes, while lifting my knees up to my chest.

Once that momentum was in full swing, my attempts to launch myself backwards or forwards initially left me suspended like a dying fly, which was possibly a disappointing result, especially since I lost my bounce immediately after my failed twist.

Serves me right for trying to show off. But eventually I succeeded and got a cheer (what every performer wants).

Only then, despite the safety harness cutting off the blood to my leg, did I ask to come down, pleased that I had done two somersaults in front of several seasoned circus performers, who were gracious in their applause.

Saul said: "I think you did really well, some people don't even get a metre off the ground before they're begging to come down."

I was happy with that. Next up was the German Wheel, which was the speciality of Simone Riccio.

Unfortunately, I couldn't rotate completely in it because: a) there wasn't enough room and b) I was really scared because my arms weren't long enough to hold on for an extended period of time.

But it took Simone the best part of four years to train in the different circus acts and he is an expert on the wheel, so I'm not too upset.

Then came the juggling, which was the worst of the lot. Besides from just passing one baton from hand to hand, several were launched at the heads of some unfortunate by-standers. Oh well. At least I had a go....

THE circus runs workshops for both adults and children in the annexe at Ebenezer Chapel in Charles Street, Cardiff. Go to www.nofitstate.

org for more information.

There is also a fundraising campaign to relocate the company to bigger and better premises at 4 Elms Schoolrooms in Adamsdown.

The 19th-century, Grade II listed building needs major repair work on it and so far the amount to get the building back in a useable state will cost pounds 1.4m. The circus is taking donations at its shows. If you would like to donate, contact Alison Woods on 02920 221340. Tabu ends on September 27 and is in the Space Ship Big Top at the Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff Bay.

CAPTION(S):

Kathryn feels the force of the bungee rope Echo reporter Kathryn Williams tries out some unusual skills with the Nofitstate Circus in the Big Top at Cardiff Bay PICTURES: Andrew James [umlaut] Kathryn starts her day at the circus with a bit of basic juggling
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Article Type:Circus review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 24, 2009
Words:803
Previous Article:Brothers' water stroll; NEWSBRIEF.
Next Article:BROUGHT TOJUSTICE.
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