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Circus, Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts

Feats for hands and feet

Perth-born juggler Jeromy Zwick and Finnish tightwire dancer Liisa Näykki are united by their love of circus… and each other. As circus duo Hands Some Feet they bring together their respective specialities alongside acrobatics, physical theatre,  skipping ropes and live music.

Ahead of their 2019 Fringe World season, Seesaw managed to catch Zwick and Näykki with their feet on the ground long enough for a quick Q&A.

A woman standing on a man's shoulders.
Jeromy Zwick & Liisa Näykki. Photo: Michael James.

Seesaw: Tell us about your training…
Jeromy Zwick: We both went to the National Circus School of Belgium in Brussels (E.S.A.C.) where we met each other, although it took another three years before we realised that we had fallen for one another. We completed an amazing yet very tough three-year Bachelor of Circus Arts program there. We didn’t just work with some of the best specialised circus teachers in the world but we were also trained in physical theatre, dance and many other skills, in order for us to graduate as professional circus artists. But we continue to learn something new every day as this job has such variety that goes beyond doing circus and being on stage.

S: Career highlight so far?
JZ: Well, there are many. For us both it would be being able to create our own show (this one) and have total artistic control of our own material, which is so great. We just love being on stage and performing this show.

S: Career lowlight?
JZ: For me  it would have be when I was told that my entire tour with another company had to be cancelled due to an injury within the group and I was suddenly out of work when I thought I would have steady work with them for at least the next three years. Liisa had a similar thing happen to her which just goes to show that an artistic profession can often be very unstable and unpredictable.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
JZ: Waking up in the morning and knowing that we are lucky enough to have fulfilled our dream of becoming professional circus artists. We don’t have to look back one day and think, “If only we took that hard road to really commit to our dream.” Now we can just be so happy that we did and we can start enjoying the benefits of all those years of hard work . Nothing beats the joy and pure pleasure of being on stage in front of an audience. The equal giving and receiving between the performer and the audience member is such a magical thing.

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
JZ: We once performed at a Finnish porridge party (yep, you read that right, a party with porridge). It’s like a pre-Christmas party where they serve a giant pot of rice porridge. Just after our performance Santa Claus made his appearance from Lapland.

S: You performed at Fringe World last year too. What drew you back?
JZ: Our first Fringe World experience was such a welcoming and heart-warming one that there was no question in our minds at all, when presented with the opportunity, that we would return with our updated and re-worked show.

S: Tell us about Hands Some Feet’s 2019 show 
JZ: Our show is a fresh, quirky and energetic contemporary circus show powered completely by our passion to create together. We combine our two specialised circus techniques of tightwire and juggling, hence the name “Hands some Feet” me being the hands as a juggler and Liisa being the feet as a tightwire dancer. The word “some” describes all that other “meat around the bones” making the show rich and full with pair acrobatics, physical theatre, skipping ropes and live music.

One of the biggest inspirations for the show comes from a special word found only in the Finnish language: Hepuli. Hepuli means to have a negative or positive burst of emotion, the kind that even the most civilised great ape cannot withstand. In our show we deliver a universal interpretation of young couples under the spell of hepuli.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
JZ: As I am a Perth boy, I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends during the time at Fringe, as most of them are also circus artists. It’s such a nice opportunity for many of us to return from all the four corners of the globe, find ourselves back together in Perth, watch each other perform and see how we’ve all developed as individual artists.

S:What is your favourite part of the playground
JZ: I do love a good swing from time to time, and I have a really strong urge to jump on any swing I pass by. I guess I’m held back by the fact that I’m an adult now, although to be honest that doesn’t usually stop me.
LN: I’ve always loved all the climbing parts on playgrounds, climbing frames, monkey bars etc.

Hands Some Feet plays at the Black Flamingo at Yagan Square, February 5 – 17

Pictured top: Liisa Näykki and Jeromy Zwick. Photo: Michael James.

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