Acrobat who lost legs shares grief, hope in performance

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Acrobat who lost legs shares grief, hope in performance

A performance by circus artists at the Maritime Tattoo Festival this weekend in Halifax tells an emotional story about endurance, loss and hope.

In it, Vanessa Furlong wears stilts and Erin Ball wears prosthetics. The acrobatic performance, in part, is about how Ball lost her legs and how she continued with her career as a circus artist.

"We explore leg attachments, I'm a double below-the-knee amputee and Vanessa is a stilt artist and so we explore the use of prosthetic legs and not-prosthetic legs and stilts and wheelchairs," Ball said.

Ball wouldn't go into detail about her personal story because she said she wanted to share it in the performance. She said her legs were amputated in March 2014. 

In the show, there is a monologue at the beginning about getting lost in the woods on a cold day and legs becoming numb.

"Be prepared to laugh and cry and everything in between," Ball said.

Ball said she spent a year in the hospital recovering, but was back performing 30 days after she was released.

"It was a pretty big adjustment period. I was pretty depressed for a while and then I got back into circus and relearned everything in a new way," she said.

Furlong, the other half of LEGacy Circus, said she and Ball began developing the show two years ago after meeting at a circus workshop in Toronto.

The performance showcases a wide range of emotions but ultimately, it's a story about perseverance.

"I think the main message of the show is to keep your mind and your heart open because there's always going to be surprises thrown your way and it's how you deal with those surprises and what you do with them," Furlong said.

LEGacy, which performed the piece Saturday night, has another show Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Halifax Forum.