10 July 2013

Doigts Croisés

Back on track! What a lovely and refreshing experience we had at the Circus tonight! Croisé is the result of the workshop on research and creation offered by the National Circus School to its graduates. The creator of the piece and the artists who brought it to the stage for the first time in October 2012 — now known collectively as Cirque Céans — are running with it in the context of the Festival Montréal Complètement Cirque. We are very glad they are!

This show also had a “soft start”…players on stage and doing things as we arrived to take our seats. We might have been nervous after the experience of the day before, but there is something reassuring about a stark and spare stage when you are expecting people to take up space there doing athletic/artistic things all over it. Maybe I have a very conventional perspective on avant-garde when I read that into a spare, black set. I just find it comforting.
Everything we look for in a circus was there. Maybe not a whole lot of danger, but I think I need to flesh out my circus requirements list beyond “danger” and “beauty” to include athleticism, grace, whimsy and humour. Needless to say, a whole lot of creativity goes into tying all of those elements together.

Some of the creativity that we look for is innovation in the use of the standard equipment, or the use of non-standard equipment in the course of the show. This show had those things in spades: seatless high chairs that became little cages, a tippable freestanding doorway that served as a bar for various acrobatics, more seatless chairs as replacements for aerial rings. One of my favourites: long metal poles that looked like giant pick-up sticks and served as delimiters of space, stepping stones and uneven bars for yet more acrobatics.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the juggling of rings and then balls in very entertaining forms. The guy juggling the rings had a couple of misses, but recovered very well indeed, which I always appreciate. The ball juggler was simply brilliant, and it certainly didn’t hurt that he is quite beautiful and a lovely dancer too.

Most of all, let me heap my last bits of praise on the interactions between the artists (totally NOT a disjointed series of solos here) and the connections that wove the various portions of the show together. We didn’t interrupt the show with smatterings of applause for one spectacular feat or another, but it was because they were so well integrated that it didn’t seem appropriate to applaud one thing as the other was already underway. That lack of interruption also made for a smoother show.

The video only shows a tiny part of Croisé, and one of the slower, dancier parts. A shame about the festival music that is all over all the videos, as it doesn’t let you get a good sense of the atmosphere of the show itself, but it’s what we have, so here it is!

If we arrived with our fingers crossed that the show would be a good one, we left with our hands stinging a bit from the applause we offered at the end. Oh, and smiles on our faces. Beautiful.

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