Roll up, roll up ... the circus is in town! But banish any thoughts of clowns, fire-eaters and performing tigers. This is circus for the 21st century, where the magic is stripped bare and served up by “seven impossibly perfect bodies”.
That’s how director Yaron Lifschitz describes the performers in Circa, the Brisbane-based company hailed as one of the most dynamic forces in new circus.
The cast combine dance with physical theatre to produce a combination of acrobatic and tumbling sequences which make up a show that’s extraordinarily energetic, powerful and sexy.
Circa has been re-inventing circus as an art form for almost five years, and has performed in more than 18 countries, leaving audiences exhilarated at just what the human form can do.
Lifschitz has described how the shows evolve — he takes all the things people do in circuses, “from jumping on each other, doing acrobatics, bouncing on their hands, hanging off trapezes, flying through the air, tumbling ... all the languages of circus ... to re-imagine these as the palette for making extraordinary works of performance”.
While in Belfast the company will be performing Circa, a remix of three previous works. Festival audiences might find themselves looking for wires and screens, so astonishing are some of the moves, all performed without dialogue. Movement is language for Circa, and the only sounds, apart from the soundtrack and the thump of bodies on the floor as the cast twist and tumble and turn, are the gasps of the crowd.
These performances provide a commentary on modern life — on the relationship between men and women and the risks and co-operation necessary for us all to survive when the chips are down.
They show men behaving madly, and women behaving badly. There are moments of trust and tenderness, as one dancer balances on another’s head, and two performers grasp the wrists of a third before gently lifting her towards the ceiling. “When you get people together with extraordinary skills, something extraordinary happens,” says Lifschitz.
Many of the vignettes created are sexy ones — a woman in red stilettos walks across a man’s bare chest; a man lifts his female partner up by her mouth — while others are surreal, scary or just, as one critic put it, “knee-tremblingly ... beautiful and moving”.
Not a one-trick pony in sight.
Circa is at the Waterfront Studio until Saturday.