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Yaron and Libby behind a convention shattering creation

Credit: photo extracted from video by Film maker Tom Marely

On February 8, 2020 a defiant new work that triumphs over social and artistic archetypes was performed in front of 12,000 people in Melbourne’s iconic Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Directed and choreographed by Circa’s Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz and Associate Director Libby McDonnell, it featured no circus performance or circus artists, but rather filled the stage with 50 of e.Motion21’s young dancers with Down’s Syndrome.

Set to Elena Kats-Chernin’s ballet suite Wild Swans, this convention shattering performance was the culmination of a 12-month journey of creative development and rehearsals led by Libby and Yaron in Melbourne. Wild Swans was born from a long-standing relationship between the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and e.Motion21. At the beginning of 2019, MSO approached Circa’s Artistic Director for creative leadership on the project.

“It took a year, three organisations, a platoon of volunteers, and dedicated leadership team, but Saturday night was one of the special ones. Along with Libby McDonnell, I am deeply proud of what we have been able to create with this team – something at once radical and accessible, heart warming and confronting. Last night 12,000 people clapped and cheered. And at the end they stood in well deserved tribute to the young artists who performed with such dignity, humanity and joy.” – Yaron Lifschitz

Yaron said Wild Swans is a show about the power of the imagination to change lives in a form somewhere beyond the outer provinces of ballet, circus, classical music and disability arts.

“As the parent of a special needs young adult, I see each day the pressing difference between their brilliant, rich inner lives and the often mundane shelf stacking and envelope packing opportunities our society affords the neurodiverse,” he said.

In Yaron and Libby’s ideation of Wild Swans, the duality of being a passenger in your life vs the creator of your life, and the power of imagination to transcend submission and perceived limitations is central.

“We are caught in our everyday routines and the security of what we know,” said Yaron.

“We’ve forgotten how to dream, play and how to imagine.

“If we are to re-imagine a world where difference is beautiful then we need to replace fear with creativity.”

With music performed by the MSO and Katie Noonan, Wild Swans was performed on Saturday, 8 February at 7.30pm in Sidney Myer Music Bowl.