The world is tottering. While politicians argue endlessly and indulge in a power game that has mostly losers, we are balancing on the threshold of the future – vulnerable and longing for a foothold.

With the audience on the quay, an imposing, sleek-white sailing staircase looms in the distance. On it: six performers engaging in an exciting dance with the tilting object, while musicians on a floating platform accompany the shimmering dynamics live with a combination of vocals, trumpet, guitar, analogue synthesiser and text samples from politicians’ speeches.

It soon becomes clear how shaky the stairs are: if one of the sailors moves to the other side, the whole thing tilts and the rest have to react immediately to avoid slipping and falling into the water. So the stakes are high; the risk is constantly felt by the audience.

With it, The Weight of Water is an exciting, poetic dance/circus performance on water. Which sees a pursuit of power, but also shows dependence – on each other, and on larger uncontrollable elements.


In 2019, the sailing staircase Triomf was part of Bosch Parade, the procession of floating artworks with Hieronymus Bosch as inspiration.

Choreographer Pia Meuthen, whose work brings dance and circus into dialogue with architectural scenography, was immediately fascinated by Triomf’s theatrical eloquence. ‘The floating staircase is a beautiful work of art that holds countless possibilities to be played. It invites dance and acrobatic use, both on top and on the sides. The tip towers six metres above the water table. The enormous impact of the tilt creates a great physical challenge for the performers. The threat of falling off is real; the instability reinforces both the performers’ vulnerability and their shifting power relations.’

Visual highlight of this year’s three-day, sold-out Down The Rabbit Hole: a dance performance on a tilt-up staircase in the lake adjacent to the festival site. As dusk fell, casual passers-by saw the silhouettes of six dancers in a choreography by Pia Meuthen. (NRC)