The Big Wheel

The Big Wheel from Charlie Murphy on Vimeo.

This video shows documentation of an epic acrobatic ‘cartwheel chain’ event, staged for the Big Dance Festival in 2008. Conceived and created by Charlie Murphy in collaboration with three top London gymnastics clubs; The Harlequins, Robert Clack School and Ladywell, this performance is the longest acrobatic chain ever staged in London.

Inspired by the rituals and formal structures of traditional public displays, this performance transforms the human chain into a dynamic ‘Mexican wave’ – joining together many different individuals and groups of people.

Created through entirely voluntary support, ‘The Big Wheel’ pays homage to Muybridge and Marey’s  pioneering studies of human (and animal) locomotion and offers a powerful gesture of athleticism and exuberance in the heart of the city.

In sports and in other public situations, cartwheeling is often an act of celebration or achievement – a way of showing off ,a provocation or  act of impudence – and each person brings their own style and approach to this simple gesture.

Echoing the dynamics of sports relays, human chains, chain gangs and the playground game ‘Tag’, this basic form of acrobatics – repeated along an epic line of participants,  transforms the simplicity of this simple gymnastic trick into a breathtaking new form of display.

Charlie now aims to extend the choreographies and performance strategies trialled in this event towards new site specific productions with dynamic lighting, percussion and costume.

Please see The Kingston Big Wheel for further examples of this project’s development.