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Ralph Barker chats to Australian acrobat Sam Letch on Humans 2.0

Presented by Circa Contemporary Circus, leaders in the new wave of contemporary Australian circus, Humans 2.0 is a beautiful cross between circus and contemporary dance. With its London premier coming up at The Southbank Centre as part of its international tour, we sat down with one of its star acrobats, Sam Letch, to chat about what we can expect from the show.


Ralph Barker: Hi Sam, lovely to meet you. You’ve got a very impressive CV ranging from parkour and acrobatics to performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and with Circa. I wonder if you could tell us a bit about discovering your passion for movement and what drives you?

Sam Letch: I was always physical as a kid and could barely sit still. I played many different types of sport in school like Rugby and Volleyball. I started training parkour because I enjoyed the creative side of it and the fact that I could test certain limits by myself. I enjoyed trying things over and over again, until they worked. This included failing a lot which taught me so much at the same time. I still remember the first time I did a backtuck off a sanddune, landing on two feet and the excitement that came with it. That feeling of achievement is still present to this day and it is also what I am still chasing daily in my job as a Circus Artist.

Ralph Barker: Your upcoming show, Humans 2.0, is an incredibly physical show with acrobatic stunts that seem very physically challenging. How do you prepare for such tightly coordinated stunts, and what is the impact of that on your mental and physical health?

Sam Letch: My show day includes 3 hours of Training and preparation before each performance. During this time, I do various exercises to prepare my body for the impact during the time on stage. 

To be honest, the mental side is not a struggle for me. I have learned how to deal with the fear of a skill through parkour at a young age and I have always enjoyed pushing these limits. Being physically healthy is part of my job. Our shows can be very demanding and it takes a lot of consistency to keep my body in shape.

Ralph: What’s the process of choreographing the different movements in Humans 2.0 like? Is this something that is conceived of as a group or more of a singular vision that you feed into?

Sam: A lot of our work on stage comes from improvisations, guided by our director Yaron Lifschitz. Mostly, we work as a group, but we also create more individually in duos or solos.

Ralph: Are there any real stand-out moments for you that came from rehearsing this piece? What were some of the more challenging elements, and what was your favourite element to perform?

Sam: One of my favourite moments in the show is a scene called “catch, drop, roll”. It is a very simple idea we play with, that brings so many different options with it - catching or not catching a person, dropping and rolling your partner. In this part of the show, I perform a duet that also has elements of improvisation in it, which I really enjoy.

Ralph: How important is trust and teamwork in what you do?

Sam: For me, trust and teamwork is the most important thing. It is the foundation to make the things we do on stage possible.

Ralph: Finally, can you tell us a bit about what your hopes for the future are. Are there any movements or performances that you’d love to experiment with more?

Sam: There are still a lot of things I want to learn and experiment with in the future. In circus, we are constantly trying to find new ways of doing things, pushing the limits in different ways. I am very excited to be part of new creations, and having the option to explore and create brings me back to why I started circus in the first place.

Humans 2.0 is on at the Queen Elizabeth Hall from 12-16 April. Tickets can be purchased here.

About Humans 2.0:

Showcasing the mechanics - and beauty - of acrobatics, a troupe of ten acrobats engage with the challenge of being human via sheer physical presence. With feats including hand-to-hand acrobatics, human towers and banquine, the acrobats push their physical limits to the extreme with impossible load-bearing, gravity-defying flights, and a few slapstick comedy moments. With a minimalist set, it is the human body that becomes swings, climbing frames and supports. From the collective display of teamwork and trust, the show asks; Can we ever find a perfect balance, or is adapting to constant change the only way forward? To find out more, head here. 

About Sam Letch:

Sam is from North West England where he trained in parkour, before his acrobatics took him to the National Centre for Circus Arts in London. There, he picked up such skills as teeterboard, hand to hand, banquine, floor and group acrobatics. His first performing role was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, then he went on to work with circus companies like Cirque Eloize. He is now part of Circa and tours internationally with them.

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