03 March 2013

Cirque d'aujourd'hui?

All right. I twas the Festival mondial de cirque de demain, but we saw it hier and all the performances are now over, so you're too late (or I'm too late to be a reviewer who gets invited to things to write about them in time for others to be inspired to go). In any case, we have further proof here that circus is for all year long, and can be highly entertaining, too.

This is a presentation that comes to us from an annual competition held in Paris. Several top acts from this and previous years came together and crossed the Atlantic just for our viewing pleasure. I didn't like all of the nine acts, but I certainly liked enough of them to feel satisfied with my experience. A little taste of it all in the form of the Tohu's ad for it:

My personal favourites were Bert and Fred, who did a number of intermezzos and their Washington Trapeze act. Excellent comedians morphing into great forms on moving or spinning trapezes. This show reel from 2012 gives you a good look at their act:

Bert & Fred: Trailer from Bert & Fred on Vimeo.

Another of the excellent acts for which I can't seem to find a video was Ba Jianguo. He apparently started as a street performer in China and had some good incorporation of traditional Chinese musical instruments in his Diabolo act. In fact, he used a top which made noise as it gathered speed and did some amazing moves with it. Beautiful.

I also enjoyed the juggling act of Morgan, from France. I'm not generally a big juggling fan, but he managed to use all sides of his head in his act, which made it more interesting. A peek:

Contortionists freak me out, so I'm not even going to talk about them, except to say that it was great to have an act coming to us from Tanzania for a change. They managed to twist themselves into all kinds of positions and move around like creepy four-legged spiders, to the delight of many others.

I should also mention our host, Calixte de Nigremont, who was really quite extraordinary in his interaction with the crowd as people were arriving and taking their seats, both at the beginning and after the intermission, and introduced all of the acts with great aplomb.

Four I won't show video for, although two of them have video available on the site of the Tohu, at least for now: the Swiss "hip-hop" act, which wasn't really hip-hop enough for my taste, and the really lost me when one of them feigned blackface and they played a Louis Armstrong number; the baton twirler who did more posing and "dancing" than twirling (not that I could have done it myself, mind you); The puppet old lady ballerina, balancing on inverted glasses of many sizes, on toe; and the one of these that I did like, the woman on the rope ladder and trapeze, Lisa Rinne. Oh heck, here's her video, too:

And let me close with what was not the closing act: Chris & Iris with their hand-to-hand work and their incredible size differential. I was amazed at how Chris could swing an apparently limp Iris into a solid handstand above his head, she not wobbling in the slightest as she transformed from rag doll into tower of steel. That was lovely.

All in all, an excellent show. Too bad you missed it! Seriously, though, the competition apparently takes place each year in January in Paris and the Tohu brings some of the top acts here every two years. For us, it was the ideal dose of circus to keep us going while we eagerly await the two shows of the graduates of the École nationale de cirque at the end of May/beginning of June.

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