NATALIE INSIDE OUT by Natalie Reckert and Mark Morreau

Natalie Reckert talks to Frankly My Dear UK about what it takes to become a world-class hand-balancing artist

It’s fair to say that Natalie Reckert has a pretty unique job. As a world-class handstand artist, Reckert uses her body to create circus art like never before, a skill she explores in her new show NATALIE INSIDE OUT.

Developed in collaboration with The Lowry and digital artist Mark Moreau, NATALIE INSIDE OUT explores the inner workings of the circus performer’s body at a level of detail usually unseen by audiences. Combining interactive digital technology with acrobatics, the piece playfully investigates the ways in which digital media can interpret and represent the human body and turns conventional ideas of circus upside down and inside out.

Ahead of her show at Salford’s The Lowry, Reckert talks about what it takes to become a world-class hand-balancing artist and why she chose to take up this unique art.

Circus has many different facets from tight-rope, aerial to juggling. So why did you choose hand-balancing?

Natalie Reckert (NR): Choosing a circus skill is not necessarily the result of careful planning or careful consideration as to what might express my ideas best on stage. It takes about 10 years to become a handbalancer at the technical level that I am at. So in many ways I ended up being a handbalancer due to the previous investments into my training before my career as a circus performer. I trained in sports acrobatics and part of that practice was handstand training. So I already had a good foundation in handstands and it made sense to build on that. Only after my technical training in handstands was quite advanced did I start to look at the different ways in which handbalancing can be staged, what inherent narrative the skill offers and what it means to me.

You studied at the National Centre for Circus Arts in London. What effect did this have on your practice?

NR: Training at the National Centre gave me the opportunity to train with handstand teacher Sainaa Sainbayar, without whom I would not have the strength or skill level that I am at now. I was also introduced to a wide range of other practices and performative tools like contemporary dance, theatre and devising. All this laid the foundation of knowledge and skill upon which I could later on deepen and learn more in the areas that suited me or interested me most.

Your show SELFIE WITH EGGS ran at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 and combined electro-robotic movement with hand-balancing. That sounds like a tricky move to do?

NR: It was more tricky to make sense of a 50-minute performance than to do electro-robotic movement in a handstand. I studied contemporary dance at Visions in Motion Dance school after my circus degree and I also did a lot of ballet. A handstand is the body in an inverted state and even though it requires a lot of focus all movement principles that can be applied to the body on its feet can be applied to the body in a handstand. So if you can dance on your feet you can dance on your hands. If you can wave your arms you can wave your legs. It is just a matter of practice.

NATALIE INSIDE OUT is ‘Developed With’ The Lowry will premiere here on Fri 20 April. Can you describe the piece in three words?

NR: Digital landscapes. Stories about me. My body in close up. That’s ten words.

NATALIE INSIDE OUT runs at The Lowry on 20 April 2018.