Interview: Hanna Moisala on circus and Shibari.

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Hanna Moisala is a Finnish tightwire dancer. She is a graduate from Turku University of Applied Sciences circus arts department and National Centre for Circus Arts, London. Together with actress Heidi Niemi, she runs London-based Lumo Company and sometimes works as a circus performer for other companies such as Dizzy O’Dare and Agit-Cirk. WireDo is Hanna’s first solo performance and it premiered at Jacksons Lane in April 2016.

How did you get the idea of combining tightwire with the Japanese rope art Shibari?

I was looking for new ideas and hung some soft ropes from my tightwire. They looked visually interesting on the hard wire, so I started to do some more research on rope art. I found a couple of visual images on Pinterest about Shibari and they caught my eye immediately. I studied the history behind the art form, and soon realised that if I wanted to learn it I needed a Shibari master.

Where did you learn Shibari and was it difficult

I managed to find a Shibari master in London called Bruce Esinem. Later I learned that he is one of the key figures who brought shibari to the UK. I proposed my project of combining tightwire and Shibari to Bruce, emphasising that I wanted to learn self-suspension, and he agreed to teach me.

Learning Shibari was challenging. Firstly, because I didn’t have much time and there was a lot to learn. For three months Bruce taught me privately twice a week and soon I came to understand that Shibari is not about doing knots but creating loops and webs with ropes. Secondly, combining the two elements was a challenge: while tightwire requires a lot of balance, Shibari rope’s main function is to restrict movement.

How many knots do you do in the show?

Wow, good question, that’s a hard one! I’ve never counted but it must be several hundred.

Are you ever afraid of getting tangled in the ropes?

Yes, that’s my biggest fear! It has happened in rehearsals a couple of times already, once when I was training alone and there was no one to save me. It took me quite a while to get out of the ropes and it was very scary.

How long does it take for a beginner to learn to walk on a tightwire?

Just to walk from one end to another is quite fast and can be learnt in a couple of weeks but to do anything else on a tightwire takes several years, even decades. As a circus skill, tightwire is not very rewarding as it takes such a long time to be able to perform any trick on it.

WireDo comes to The Lowry Sat 4 February. For tickets and information click here or call box office on 0843 208 6000.

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