After our first visit at Ambasada ROG, it was evident to us that we need to understand how other spaces work around. Our next visit to the factory was at a space where art, music, creativity, and physical exercise is combined. Cirkusarna NaokROG is operating at the ground floor of the main building, and it serves as an exercise space for different circus affiliated practices as per the ROG website, including aerial and silk dancing, acrodancing, and hand standing. Apart from its use as a gym, the space also accommodates rehearsals, theatre performances, jazz sessions and jam nights. Our first visit to the space was during an AcroDance class, and even though at first we did not intend to participate during it, we decided to take part and experience how the space is realised by the temporal users of ROG.
We take out our shoes and leave our stuff outside the main space where the class is taking place: the space is full of different objects that are used by the circus performers or the musicians that come to Cirkusarna once a week. With our presence, the class was a bit crowded for the size of the space, but this did not deter or annoyed the rest of the frequent class members. The section, usually taught in Slovene, was now explained in English to make it easier for us to follow. The idea behind acrodance is to explore different rhythms and interpretations of dancing with the help of basic acrobatic movements, and the use of different objects and techniques. The exercises and the different movements are explored through partnering with another member. It is a quite exhilarating experience for someone that is not familiar with this way of exercising, as it requires a combination of rhythm, experimentation, and control to master some of the movements. After the first shock and uncertainty though, one can immerse to the experience and appreciate not only the physical benefit, but also how the space contributes to a different understanding of one’s own body.
As the class progresses, there is also a sense of playfulness and freedom that goes hand in hand not only with the act of dancing, but also with the very idea of squatting. Each movement contributes to it of course, but it is also the very act of being-in-place that actively makes people part of the squat, even temporarily. In this sense, the Cirkusarna space is one that is infused with multiple meanings and the experience of each individual, which adds to the necessity of preserving this place in a state that allows such type of experimentation to happen.
Furthermore, whereas for some of the participants the act of being in a place like ROG is only incidental to the actual activity, it shows that such participation largely contributes to the creative co-production that is happening on a weekly basis in Cirkusarna and other active spaces, which stems from the richness and multiplicity of the sensorial and emotional experience of place-making (Warren, 2012). This is an important achievement that adds to the extra-ordinarity of a place like ROG, and allows for a reciprocal exchange between people and place, which is based on openness and change rather than boundedness and stability (Cresswell, 2004).
The class draws to a close with a partnering massage and everybody on our team is now feeling a bit more relaxed. The rest of the regulars are taking a little break, as they are apparently also taking part on the hand standing class that starts after acrodance. We thank the instructor and also arrange to meet to discuss a bit more about Cirkusarna and the activities that the circus people are involved in ROG. That will not be our only visit in the space though…
Cresswell T 2004 Place: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
Warren S (2014) ‘I want this place to thrive’: volunteering, co-production and creative labour. Area 46(3): 278–284.