Four Elms Project – Five Months On

BIANCO Seventh Wave 01

This May 23rd Bianco is coming home. NoFit State’s immersive promenade circus show returns from a sold-out residency at the Perth International Arts Festival in Australia. Reviewing the original production in the Wales Arts Review, Jemma Beggs wrote; ‘To be so close to the action, feeling the whoosh of air as a trapeze artist swings directly above your head, to see the expression on their face just before their feet catch the bar is an extraordinary experience.’

At the end of 2013, NoFit State opened a new rehearsal and creative space called Four Elms. It was intended that the building would not only serve as a new home for the company, but also act as a community hub and resource. At its launch, our Managing Editor Phil Morris described it as a space ‘that liberates the spirit’.

We asked NoFit State to tell us about how the Four Elms project is progressing in its first year. Jodie Burnham of NoFit State writes:

Four Elms is a converted church schoolrooms in Adamsdown that underwent a five year regeneration project to transform a derelict building into Wales’ first dedicated circus training and rehearsal space.

Four Elms today is a stunningly beautiful building in the heart of the community where NoFit State was born. Since opening five months ago the building has been buzzing. In January Four Elms was filled with rehearsals for Taking the Air, a new NoFit State production commissioned by the Showzam Festival in Blackpool, and the local community were invited in to explore the building, watch rehearsals, discuss the developing production with the creative team and performers, and try out a range of circus skills for themselves.

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Bringing together performers from all over the world with local people of all ages and backgrounds, the opening weekend was an enormous success with over 450 local residents coming into Four Elms for the first time in over twenty years.

Since then the building has been with filled workshops for young people, Masterclasses by international circus performers, film makers, rehearsals for a wide range of Cardiff theatre dance and circus companies, meetings for local community organisations, community cabarets, and rehearsals and creative development projects for NoFit State.

For any building to be so busy within such a short space of opening is the clearest possible indication of the vibrancy of the performing arts in Cardiff and the strength of community development and engagements programmes throughout the city.

Four Elms demonstrates the impact that the development of public spaces can have on community regeneration and our cultural life – and the transformative impact that even quite small capital projects can have.

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All photos: NoFit State

NoFit State are performing Bianco in their Big Top beside Callaghan Square from 23 May – 7 June. Tickets are available from www.nofitstate.org/bianco or by calling 0333 222 9000