Feature: Lisa Chudalla: My Red Safety Line

Lisa Chudalla: My Red Safety Line.

“When I perform without an object, a rope or a wheel, I feel naked.”

“My rope is sort of my safety line; it stops me falling down.”

Lisa Chudalla is an independent artist as aerialist, entertainer and model in multiple disciplines and various fields, such as circus and variety, festivals, galas and events and art projects. She has performed in different countries since and she graduated in Circus Arts at CODARTS in Rotterdam.

Lisa is ready for the interview, a little excited perhaps, because today is the day when she will deliver her object to another artist: a dark red rope. It is a working tool for her, it is a circus aerial rope, an indispensable partner for her.

This feeling of attachment is also perceived by the fact that Lisa decides to carry the rope with her during the interview (actually because she believes she is doing a video interview). Who knows? Is this an unconscious way of not wanting to separate from her dear object? It is still great to have this conversation seeing her with the red rope on her knees, wrapped like a snake.

Lisa’s rope has travelled a lot with her, together they have been at the Fusion Festival in Berlin, in Belgium, at the Chamaeleon Theater in Berlin and also in a traditional circus, where the heights are dizzying and where a rope becomes your safety line. It saves you and won’t let you fall.

Unpacking the story of this object, we face different concepts related to the body: fatigue, being suspended, and feeling safe or secure. This string in fact has a long life. It has accompanied Lisa for almost eleven years during her journey as a circus artist. She decided to buy it during the second year of the CODARTS school. A boy from London built it specifically for Lisa, who decided to have it dyed dark red.

Speaking of colour, we reflect on the fact that dark red masks well what the rope carries with it; the fragments of skin, sweat, blood due to exercise, and also the stage makeup that during the performances is sometimes spread on this tool; for Lisa, it is more a partner or dance partner than an object. This rope has something very human about it, it is almost an extension of the artist’s body.

At some point, however, this rope decides to abandon Lisa, on a cruise ship, during a show. The performer hears a noise, a crash during the act but continues with her number. The rope is a symbol of salvation, it keeps a person suspended high but it must also feel safe. Instead, during this performance, it wears out. It doesn’t break though; it holds out until the end of the show Lisa looks at the rope and sees it broken, with a cut, a wound… and that’s when she starts to feel a deep sadness.

All this happened three years ago and during this time Lisa is unable to separate from it, because the rope has marked the starting point of her professional career as a circus artist. Because “inside” this object there are all the times that Lisa has had to repeat the same exercises during her school years and there is also a special person linked to this object; the rope teacher. She is Russian and very strict but very passionate and caring about her students. Lisa tells me that during the last year before graduating, her teacher had the act repeated three times every day … up and down and then again from the beginning.

This is where the circle closes, returning to the concept of pain, fatigue in suspension but also feeling safe with a rope because it is the only means that keeps the artist properly suspended; an anchor that allows her to express herself by hovering in the air.

Storyteller Marta Franzoso.