Culture and sport combine for Element Beyond Gravity

Culture and sport combined for the latest phase of a Games-inspired opera project.

Element Beyond Gravity is a three-year operatic response to the London 2012 Games led by Curious Planet CIC working with disabled and non-disabled communities in Medway and Kent.

Photograph of the Element Beyond Gravity opera at the Historic DockyardThe latest phase considered the experience of athletes in flight or suspension and culminated in a spectacular premiere to a full house in Slip 3 at the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

The opera tells the legend of a city called Octavia, where the people have collective dreams of weightlessness. It is inspired by the architectural prose Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

As part of their research, Curious Planet spent time filming trampolining at Jumpers Rebound Centre in Gillingham.

The project involved 35 participants and co-creators, collaborators and performers, including 16 with disabilities. The premiere, which followed 25 rehearsals and creative workshops, was watched by an audience of 130. For many it was their first experience of live opera.

Photograph of the Element Beyond Gravity opera at the Historic DockyardDirector Tania Holland said: "We have seen an amazing effort put in by members of the cast, who have stretched themselves again and again in their determination to learn the music and roles.

"We were particularly thrilled to receive so many disabled people in the audience and know that they were experiencing live opera for the first time."

Curious Planet's next production will be a professional theatre piece with partners in Austria and Bulgaria. They also plan to set up the final stage of the Element project ready for 2012.

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