We caught up with Shani Stephens, an acrobat from Gravity & Other Myths who has recently been involved with the team’s latest show – The PULSE as part of the Adelaide Festival.
Gravity and Other Myths: The Pulse
2020 was a weird year for the Arts industry, what challenges did you and your fringe show face and how did you overcome them ahead of the 2021 Fringe season to be show ready?
2020 was a year that quite literally backflipped on us. As a company that is used to performing all over the world 11 months of the year, you could imagine what a pandemic did to our industry. 2020 was a year full of international touring and exciting performance opportunities, but unfortunately, this reality was no longer feasible in a world that was living through a pandemic. Although it was extremely heartbreaking and unsettling for an industry that survives off human interaction while everyone was locked up inside, I see silver linings everywhere. It meant families could finally be reunited after months on the road, it meant suitcases could finally be unpacked and our beds could finally be slept in, but the real magic that was discovered was that all 30 GOM acrobats could finally be in the same place at the same time (which is unheard of for a company that has three shows touring simultaneously).
We turned a year that could have been miserable and demotivating into a year that was a highlight in my career and many others as well. We used this year not only to upskill, but we created three new shows that are ready for the world to see when restrictions allow us to do so. ThePULSE is the first COVID baby that we developed and during the pandemic and are now premiering at Her Majesty’s Theatre during AdelaideFestival. This show is one to not be missed. 30 acrobats and 30 choir singers collaborate onstage to make the largest Australian contemporary acrobatic show there has ever been.
Being a show that is physically demanding, outside of show rehearsals, what is your standard health and fitness routine in the months leading up to opening night?
Outside of training we really prioritize rest, rehab, and recovery to make sure our bodies are able to adhere to the physical stress we demand of them. This includes foam rolling, stretching, theraband exercises, sleep, and making sure we are eating well. Before the season started, I made sure I was in tune with my body to see if I had any niggles or injuries on the horizon that I needed to attend to. Besides that, I made sure I was having adequate sleep and refueling my body after every training session.
During festival season what do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time during festival season, I like to catch up with friends and family as this time of the year usually brings people and artists together from all over the state, which you may not have seen for quite some time. I also love going to cafes, going on walks, and watching other shows.
How important do you think this year’s Fringe Festival will be for the local Adelaide Community?
I think this year’s Fringe is so important for the Adelaide community to show what Artists have been able to create in a time of such uncertainty. Everyone needs art, whether you know it or not. It is what brings us joy, hope, excitement and it is something we all can relate to. This year we can all come together and share our love for the Arts and be so thankful South Australia restrictions have allowed us to do so.
What does the Adelaide Fringe mean to you?
This Adelaide Fringe means so much to me as I am so excited to show the world what we have been working on for the past 6 months. The Arts is more alive than ever right now and after a year like last, it will never be taken for granted again. It feels so special to connect with an audience again after we were restricted from it for far too long. I know I will be going out and watching as many shows as I can while Adelaide Fringe gives us the opportunity to do so.