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Disability Arts Online

Gabby Ferro reviews the film 'Breathe' / 13 September 2012

Dance troop on stage wearing costumes made from recycled parts, with brown an a base colour and coloured parts on top creating a ragged effect.

'The Breathers'. Image: Richard Jeffery

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This documentary follows the preparation and the performance of an outdoor circus performance featuring mainly disabled performers.

The film builds up to a fantastic spectacle, which involves witnessing, as the Southbank website states “people who cannot walk, but fly”. The performance was a collaboration between people from Dorset and people from Brazil, made up of performers from The Remix and Double Act, and APAE from Brazil, to perform at Cirque Bijou. As a group they were being commissioned by Diverse City for the Maritime Mix 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea.

As I was watching this I was reminded of my search for young disabled groups offering dynamic classes, where I found that you can all experience learning some circus skills. So if you too want to learn, have a search and you might stumble on something fun and adventurous!

The performance centered on the theme of sailing and all the events based around sailing in the Olympics and Paralympics. It seems that the whole community of Bournemouth was really involved in this project as the University of Bournemouth provided beautiful costumes for the event, and there were huge crowds on the beach, watching the event.

It is wonderful to watch the rehearsals and to see the joy in all the peoples faces as they fly around using their wires. As the documentary shows the Brazilians arrive, everyone is ecstatic to have their cooperation. The production brought all 64 disabled and non disabled people together to put on this fantastic spectacle. One of the people in the film, explained how the production included people with a variety of disabilities and how wonderful it was to be collaborating with such a diverse group.

One of the Brazilian girls stated how pleased she was to see this collaboration, and explained that in Brazil disabled people are a long way off from being treated equally. This raised questions of what it will be like to have the Paralympics in Rio and the state of equal rights for the disabled around the world. Hopefully, the Paralympics will be as successful as in Rio as it was here in London, and challenge peoples prejudices on disability successfully enough to break down barriers.

With the final rehearsal on Weymouth Beach, all of the performers looked truly happy to be a part of the event. As one of the non disabled performers said: “it just proves that disabled people can do the same things and achieve great results, just maybe in different ways.”

The performance itself was brilliant, as you see acrobats in wheelchairs being held up over the crowds by a crane. They then manipulate the wires to do fantastic tricks. As this is happening over the crowds, on stage the dramatics of the choreography, music, fireworks and costume really makes this feel like a magical carnival. I would agree with the statement at the end of the film in the credits, “Breathe redefined what is possible”.