Acrobats Jascha Boyce and Joren Dawson don’t own a television. They don’t have a philosophical opposition to it, and it’s not like they wouldn’t use it, they just haven’t bought one yet. It’s understandable – Boyce, who is director of acclaimed circus company Gravity & Other Myths, and Dawson, an acrobat in the company, both owners of creative studio Pulsing Heart – lead a uniquely busy lifestyle.
“[We] spend 10 or 11 months of the year on the road,” says Boyce. “[Before Covid-19] I was in Australia very rarely, [we were here] mostly during festival season.” Constant touring meant they didn’t even see their house before purchasing it. “We were probably talking about it for a year or a year and a half, but it was pretty hard to look for houses while we were on tour,” she says. “I sent my parents to countless open inspections.”
The pair settled on a former church in historic Mitcham, Adelaide. “We were looking for something unique,” explains Dawson. “[Jascha’s] dad is an architect, so he has an eye for these things … I think he actually said, ‘If you don’t buy it, I’m going to.’”
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When Broadsheet visits, the open-plan space is neat, tidy and minimal. You get the sense that every object has been carefully selected. It’s only when Jascha and Joren start describing the decor that you realise how global their lives have been.
“The figurehead is from Rome, the stripy, colourful vase is from Morocco,” Boyce says, pointing to a few favourite items. Other objects around the house are gifts, or have sentimental value. There’s artwork by a friend, Sam Wright, of the Adelaide institution The Exeter, as well as one by Jascha’s grandmother, who was a painter.
The calm, quiet space is disrupted only by the couple’s playful Irish setter, Rufus, who interrupts our interview a couple of times. The couple tells us he’s insistent on being part of the photo shoot too.
Kindred spirits, the couple credit their similar sensibilities to being raised in creative families and going to circus school at formative ages. San Francisco-raised Dawson went to Circus Center and Adelaide local Boyce went to Cirkidz.
Taking a pause and buying a house together had been on the cards for a while, so the pandemic came at a (relatively speaking) good time. “The two of us were [planning to stop] touring full-time three or four weeks after Covid,” says Dawson. Government funding kept them and their businesses going, and time that would have otherwise been spent touring ended up being creatively fulfilling. “We lost a year and half of touring, which was massive for us. 2020 was going to be our biggest year … We had plans to have three ensembles touring simultaneously,” says Boyce.
“[But] because we got all of our artists on Jobkeeper, we had an opportunity to feel like we were a fully funded company for the first time ever … It meant that we could actually be in one place, and train together and create together. We made three new shows during Covid, and one of them, The Pulse, was the biggest show we’ve ever created.”
The couple have been busy with their company Pulsing Heart, too. Hexadeca – an architecturally designed music-making playground, which came to Womad – is going on tour. They’re also working on a project involving bone conduction hearing.
“There’s a dance school in Colorado that has it installed under their dance floor, so that kids – and it’s particularly accessible for deaf kids – can hear music through the floor,” says Dawson. “So we’re gonna build a pretty giant curvy plywood platform that you stand on and you hear music through.”
Now that borders are open, it’s all systems go for Gravity & Other Myths. Berlin, Edinburgh, Cairo and San Francisco are all on the agenda for the coming months. But, from now on, they’ll always call Adelaide home.
Read more in our Creative Couples series.