Defying gravity is barely the beginning for these Aussie acrobats who deliver a bucket (list) performance 

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Gravity & Other Myths

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Gravity & Other Myths

Shall we cut to the chase? Backbone is spectacular artistry and jaw-dropping fun, and these fearless Aussies deliver one helluva performance. “A meaningful piece of circus,” is how director Darcy Grant describes the riveting production by Gravity & Other Myths (GOM). But that’s just for starters. Sometimes in our increasingly cynical world, simply being able to sit back and marvel can be meaning enough. And speaking of Marvel, the current flock of big screen superheros (no offense, Wakanda fans) has got nothing on these guys.

I can’t even begin to ponder all the “other myths” this troop shattered in their hour-plus feat of spectacular human trampolining, tumbling, and twisty-twirling-while-standing-atop-another’s-head. You could pretty much toss all the other laws of physics right out of Memminger’s windows (if there were windows).

I’d just come from watching stellar ballet at the Gaillard, and the juxtaposition of these two physical art forms made GOM’s performance all the more interesting. Both were celebrations of the human body as a work of art; both were displays of strength, agility, and sheer physical virtuosity. The beauty of ballet is one of discipline and refinement, while the artistry of these acrobats is one of audacity and high-flying, back-flipping fun.

GOM’s fine-tuned choreography and stagecraft, including mesmerizing live violin and percussion by Shenton Gregory and Elliot Zoerner, was heightened by the performers’ delightful personalities — Jascha Boyce would giggle after landing a backwards somersault crowning a three-person human tower; acrobat Lachlan Harper flashed a killer boyish grin while executing effortless back double gainers — or whatever you call something that looks like a Greg Louganis-meets-Brian Boitano move, off the floor. In one breathtaking segment of balance and superhuman contortion, the show-stealing Joanne Curry (who says in her bio that she always wanted to be the circus “girl who gets thrown around”) maintained a hypnotic focus on one audience member, which served to intensify the audience gaze as well.

Backbone certainly earns its title — though one surely imagines these ultra-limber beings must be some variation of invertebrates. The show explores themes of strength and interconnection. Buckets and big rocks (what we carry, what anchors us) are nearly the only props. Bodies bounce off and on each other; twist, climb, flip and fly over and around each other. We’re here to lean in and lean on one another, to catch each other, to build each other up, and share heavy loads, the actors/acrobats seem to suggest. And to do it with humor and upbeat energy, with sensual music and laser lights and a random knight in shining armor…well, why not?

Backbone represents Spoleto at its finest — a show with something for everyone, accessible to all ages, with no pretension, nothing highbrow — except for the fact that your brow will be raised in a perpetual state of awe and delight. An additional crease in my forehead is well worth it.

Backbone by Gravity & Other Myths

May 26, 7 p.m., May 27, 5 p.m.; May 28, 2 p.m.; May 29, 7 p.m.; May 30, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain Street

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