Tightrope walking – Balance

Balance is a constant movement in and out of equilibrium. If you try to hold on to it , you will fall.

I don’t like balance. I think it is too similar to the Swedish concept of » lagom ». A bit lukewarm. Neither black nor white, but in-between-grey. I like contrasts. When there is a lot, feels a lot. Balancing on dividing lines is all right. Walking the thin line between right and wrong, beautiful, and ugly.

The tightrope walker crosses the wire, intensely focused. Her body is tense and diagonal, but her arms constantly move, softly and non-rhythmically parrying the balance. She gains speed, dances with swift steps. I only just have time to think that it looks so free and unhindered when she suddenly falls. I ask her about balance and receive the following answer: »

Balance is a constant movement in and out of equilibrium. An eternal quest for the perfect poise. No matter how much you aspire to succeed, you only move swiftly in, and then out. As soon as you’ve attained balance you lose it. If you try to hold on to it, you will fall.

An image of an ECG comes to mind. A constant movement above and below the midpoint. When you die – a straight line. And I realize: balance isn’t in between. It is just as wide a range as an ECG-curve. Not grey, but a movement between a lot of black and a lot of white.

 action – rest
subjectivity – objectivity
play – seriousness
succeed – fail

A constant movement in and out… To be balanced is to be happy to be sad.


Equilibristic is the art of balance. There are several disciplines within the circus arts based on maintaining an equilibrium, such as hand balancing on different supports such as canes, ladders, or stacked chairs: the Washington trapeze (a special heavier trapeze on which headstands or handstands are performed) , the unicycle and last but not least, funambulism , which may be the discipline most associated with equilibrium.

The oldest style of funambulism is the slackwire, and one could easily imagine that it was invented when someone simply thought to rig a rope between two trees. Another is the tightwire, which is a wire on which acrobatics, advanced step patterns and dance are performed. For this reason, it is often referred to as » wire dancing ». Skywalk or high wire is a third style. The wire is stretched at a great height and the act can be performed either on stage, in the ring, or as an (il)legal act outdoors, where the wire is fixed between rooftops , across ravines or anywhere else imaginable. One world- famous sky walker is Philippe Petit , who in 1974 crossed a wire strung between the towers of the World Trade Centre , New York. The different styles of funambulism are often combined with other forms of equilibristic such as riding a unicycle on the wire.