I could not breathe nor move until the final branch was in place, though my movement could not have affected the video performance of this most extraordinary act of balance and concentration. As the camera panned the judges and audience, it showed their mouths opening in wonder.
I’m grateful to Jenni Woodroffe for sending me the link to Miyoko Shida’s performance of Sanddornbalance for the Spanish television program, Tú Sí Que Vales (You Can Do It). Starting with a feather balanced on a curved palm branch, she added other curved pieces until the whole was an exquisite, aerial sculpture like the backbone of a huge fish. And all the while the feather remained in place.
Curious to know more, I did a bit of Web surfing and found the act performed by Lara Jacobs Rigolo for Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna”.
That took me back yet further, to Mädir Eugster, the dancer, acrobat, inventor and sculptor who created Sandbornbalance and was its sole performer until he taught it to the two women fairly recently. Both perform with his company Rigolo, which is now Rigolo Nouveau Cirque. They also perform with Cirque du Soleil.
A rough translation of what this piece means to Eugster is on his Facebook page. He asks, “Is it possible to consciously bring harmony, balance, balance, create and provoke them?”
The artist is capable of both harmony and chaos. With utter and profound concentration, Eugster and his two pupils draw the audience into a world of complete calm and total control of the body, where the slightest misstep would bring the delicately balanced pieces crashing to the stage. The ending returns the delicate structure to the place where it began. In the pile of branches lies the promise of rebirth.
Sanddornbalance is a visual meditation, a search for harmony played out with every movement. Watching it, I feel my breath slow, my thoughts quiet. My usual penchant for darting from one thing to another and back again stops and allows for a space of stillness. This gives me hope.