A short but intensive planning meeting took place at the Galway Community Circus in Galway, Ireland from 24-27 February 2020. Cirqueon is a partner school in the special Wires Crossed 2020 event, when funambulists will cross Galway’s tidal-speed Corrib River and its neighboring calmer river basin over 2020 consecutive minutes (that’s 33.3 hours!) What is funambulism, you say? It is the art of wirewalking with a balancing pole, easy to learn and accessible to anyone who is mobile and able to hold a pole weighing a few kilos.
Galway’s river Corrib, with its fast current, is a site where many have chosen to end their lives. In light of this sad fact and society’s high levels of stress, depression and anxiety, the Wires Crossed project is focused on using funambulism to bring attention to and support psychological well-being and community building. Funambulism helps individuals hone their balance and concentration, build resilience, tone their bodies and calm their minds, while promoting socialization across circumstances and cultures. The Wires Crossed 2020 crossing is a symbol of solidarity, a hand reaching out to those who feel unwell, and a challenge to come together to increase happiness, hope and personal and collective healing. The WC project will continue after the Galway crossing, but the crossing will be the largest such event to date.
The crossing will take place during the Galway European City of Culture Festival from 6-9 August 2020. Cirqueon will take a team of 8 young people for a 10-day Youth Exchange with 6 other circus schools, for a total of 49 youth and 12 lecturers. All participants will get to know each other, play, train and create together before the festival begins. Then they will have the chance to walk across 40 and 60-meter long tightwires constructed over the calm river basin at various heights (2m, 4m and 6m over the water). Ambitious amateurs and professional funambulists will walk a 100-meter long wire across the more wild waters of the river Corrib itself. During the 4-day festival August 6-9, there will be circus shows, seminars, a science park with interactive learning about funambulism, and much more!
As a WC 2020 Youth Exchange Co-leader, I went to the Youth Exchange planning meeting in Galway with Valerie Hetzendorfova, one of our older students and member of the team. Other leaders brought their students from Cirkus Cirkor (Sweden), Cabuwazi (Germany), Cirkus Amersfoort (Netherlands), Ecole du Cirque Bruxelles (BE) and The Serious Road Trip circus school (Romania). We met with the friendly, cheerful team at Galway Community Circus, and tackled the schedule and plans with a fine toothed comb, discussing every detail of the busy project. In Galway, the wind blows and it rains and rains and rains… So we were thrilled when, on the second day of meetings, we had sunshine for a few precious hours! We enjoyed our walk to see the river site where the crossing will take place, the festival site and our accommodations.
The trip went fast. A big adventure awaits us. We did a little sightseeing and enjoyed delicious food. We are very excited to train from now up until August, and invite you to watch for our public funambulism workshops throughout the spring and summer!