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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Circa’s performance more comedic than acrobatic, but with cliff-hanging stunts


Circa, an Australian circus troupe, performed at Memorial Hall on Tuesday. They will have another show Wednesday night.
By Katelyn Trela 
The Daily Tar Heel, UNC
If anticipation were an art form, Circa would make artists of us all.

In an experiment with muscle and the limits of the body, Circa’s self-titled performance often comes to the edge, but rarely jumps.

The Australian company performed three of its most acclaimed acts in a continuous 90-minute set at Memorial Hall. The group will perform the chain of acrobatic feats again tonight.

Circa fuses modern dance with feats of intricate strength, creating an airy performance that feels grown up.

The seven company members show extreme power of mind and body, taking their time and meticulously building up to cliff-hanging stunts.


One went through a humorous set showing off his fingers before attempting three handstand feats. He balanced on 10 fingers, then six. He then held up his index fingers, preparing to hold himself up — but never did.


Elongating anticipation to grow suspense was reiterated almost constantly, but was not always followed through with a sigh-of-relief-worthy finish.


The notable exception came halfway through the show, when three male performers towered on each other’s shoulders. 


After a moment for applause, the top acrobat slowly retreated, leaving a tower of two. From the wings ran another male, jumping to kick the tower’s base, and knocking the two into a designed topple.


The company’s physicality appears most impressively in their ability to be contorted rather than to contort.


At various points, one performer became the puppet, the other the puppeteer, pushing an arm or positioning a leg to manipulate the vulnerable half of the duo.


Scattered through the performance were silent solo moments, showcasing the humor and stunts of the players. 


In the first, a male acrobat spent more time pumping up his muscles in a comedic show than flipping through the air.


From beginning to bows, the performers tested expectations.


In the last sequence, one of the women entered wearing deep red stiletto heels and stood beside one of the men lying on the floor. 


It became a question of where she would step, testing his tolerance as much as the physical endurance of them both.


The gymnastic ballet plays with the ideas of pain and error, calling gasps from the seats. But the payoffs are rare and more often comedic than acrobatic.


Even so, Circa gives a well-crafted show worthy of a night at the circus.

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