Australian ensemble brings all-human circus to Norton Center at Centre College in Danville
One of the world’s contemporary circuses will bring its all-human ensemble Valentine’s Day weekend to the Norton Center for the Arts.
The 35-year-old Circus Oz, which hails from Melbourne, Australia, started in the late 1970s. Now the Australian National Circus, Circus Oz presents comedy in “a sort of irreverent sort of show,” said Artistic Director Mike Finch.
“It’s a kind of subversive twist on a circus,” Finch said in a phone interview from Australia. “There are 12 performers in the ensemble, an equal mix of men and women. There are strong women and graceful men — we turn gender expectations upside down.
“They all have characters and they all do a little bit of everyone else’s act.
The band is onstage during the show, Finch noted.
“The band actually are part of the show. The performers are like a big family. It’s all integrated.”
“Oz” is short for “Ozzy,” a short nickname for Australia.
Circus Oz is geared toward a broad age spectrum, he said.
“It’s about a philosophy of diversity,” Finch explained. “The idea is to get a really diverse group of people (to this) big spectacle … show. There are big stunts and tricks and acrobatics and tumbling. Handstands on a bendy pole. There’s a whole lot of real spectacle in it.
“It can look really dangerous. It engages with kids and adults who are looking for that sheer sort of spectacle. … It’s for people who like theater, who like watching improv comedy, who like a live band that plays the entire job. All the music is live and original.”
The music covers a broad range: rock and funk to jazz, gypsy and fusion.
“It’s like watching a really eclectic musical concert. There are all these different layers to the show,” Finch noted.
The appeal covers a broad range, too.
“Kids will go to the show and love the silliness of it, and the play,” he explained. “All the kids and teenagers see the danger and excitement. Then there is the athletic and acrobatic performance.”
There is a “real Australian sensibility” to Circus Oz, Finch said.
“We’re all Australians, from Melbourne in the state of Victoria. … There are two indigenous performers in the show who are part of our show. (We hope) the audience comes away with “that is a joyful, irreverent, laidback culture.
“There will be all sorts of resonances with the people of Danville. There is a lot of diversity. The audience will be coming out empowered, reconnected with humanity, and thinking, ‘I’d like to go to Australia sometime.’”By JENNIFER BRUMMETT