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Blind acrobat set to soar in Dulwich Park ‘integrated circus’

A blind acrobat hopes that her performance in a spectacular circus show in Dulwich Park next month will help ‘break down barriers’ for disabled people.

Karina Jones is an aerialist for Extraordinary Bodies, the group behind the upcoming ‘Weighting’ show on May 9 and 10. The integrated circus highlights both disabled and non-disabled entertainers and “celebrates every body, disabled or not.”

Karina, from Llandudno in north Wales, was thirteen years old when she lost her sight due to a hereditary gene, something that she thought would make it impossible to live a normal life.

She said: “I had to stop playing PE with my friends at school and I was absolutely gutted. Being blind, I never thought I would be able to drive a bus, let alone become an aerialist.”

Karina profile pic

This changed when she took part in the preparations for the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics in 2012, where she was surprised but thrilled to be pushed to her limits by instructors.

She said: “They didn’t care that I was blind. I would climb a rope and they would ask me why I wasn’t at the top yet. It was so refreshing, a feeling of complete freedom. I felt like there were no boundaries.”

Now a proud member of Extraordinary Bodies, she hopes that she and her fellow performers – including a deaf choir ‘singing’ through sign language – can help inspire a new generation of disabled people.

She said: “It is possible for blind people to be an aerialist, for deaf people to sing. I think these aspects of the show enrich the whole performance. Circuses are great, but ours goes one further. If I was a young kid watching I would be so inspired, it really breaks down barriers.”

Extraordinary Bodies
Extraordinary Bodies

The show tells the story of a family in grief and its difficult journey back to normality.

Karina said: “It is all about travelling from one place to another, about moving on. In a way it’s a nice metaphor for a lot of the performers in the show. I can’t wait – I’m so looking forward to it.”

Southwark residents are being encouraged to take part in the fun and join a special community choir that will perform on the day. Anyone interested in taking part should email events@southwark.gov.uk.

The shows will take place in Dulwich Park at 2pm and 7pm on May 9 and at 2pm on May 10.

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