From humble beginnings in a small Norwegian village, Eskil Ronningsbakken’s death-defying mixture of art and acrobatic skills has led him to perform in over 100 countries, and to TV audiences in their millions. It’s been a challenging ride for Eskil.
How did you end up doing what you do?
I’ve never done anything but balanced. Many people already know at a young age what they want most in life, but they’re usually raised in such a way as to deny their talents and follow the mainstream. I simply went for my dream and did what felt right to me. I knew when I was five years old what I was going to do in life. It has been a long journey, being faithful to my own feelings and intuition has been extremely important. I’m not trying to tell that everyone should balance at the edge of a cliff, but to be what we are made to be instead of what we believe society expects us to be.
What was your first major balancing act?
My first major balancing performance took place at Preikestolen in Norway in 2001, 600 m above the fjord.
I performed a handstand then.Prior to this I had practiced for years on my own and been educated at a German performance school (Staatliche Artistenschule Berlin). I also worked a lot on stage.
When you are balancing, what are you thinking about? How much mental preparation do you need?
Its about 50% physical and 50% mental. I start every project envisioning an image, I see clearly what I want to do and my target, before I undertake any kind of action. Then next - months or up to a year of training. Safely on the ground first and then step by step, higher and higher. The mental and the physical preparations always go hand in hand. I never allow one of them to run faster than the other.
Do you feel nervous beforehand?
I always feel a bit nervous before I balance and that's absolutely normal for any human being. If I happen not to be nervous at all, then I can't perform, because I'll then be totally unprotected. On the other hand, I am trained to be in control of my fear. Fear doesn't control me. I'm not terrified by the thought of death, but at the same time I'm trying to not fall over the edge. The goal is to create art and of course to survive. On the other side, to separate from the comfortable for a while gives me a whole new impression of the unknown.
Do you think there is an after-life?
Yes, given that humans are energy, we'll most likely turn into a different state after this.
What do your family think of your art?
I was quite energic as a child, so they have got used to it over the years. Accepting it 100% is only possible if you understand and respect that this is my greatest passion. Sometimes people ask me when I'll stop doing what I'm doing. I simply can't stop loving in the middle of an act, when the act is my life.