Snowtime for Circus Oz on first trip to Canada
Circus Oz performers get used to different conditions in
Canada. Picture: Mathieu Létourneau Source:
by: Sally Bennett--arts editor
March 12, 2012
THE globetrotting performers of Circus Oz are right at home in Montreal, the unofficial circus capital of world — the only thing tripping them up is all the snow.
The Melbourne-based troupe is in the middle of a two-week season in the Canadian city with a large population of daredevils, including circus giants Cirque du Soleil.
It is the first time Circus Oz has performed in circus heartland and many local artists were there to see the opening-night show.
“There was a bit of pressure,” artistic director Mike Finch said. “They’re very literate in circus; it’s a physical vocabulary they know really well.
“I get the feeling the audience is really interested in the way we speak the language, which is in a really distinctive Australian way. It’s really irreverent and fun and there’s a level of absurdity to it. It’s like we’ve gone out and done rock’n’roll and they’re used to hearing classical music.”
Circus Oz performers in Montreal, Canada.
Picture: Mathieu Létourneau Source: Supplied
Circus Oz may be dwarfed in size by Cirque du Soleil, but it led the world in modernising the centuries-old artform.
The company was performing on the steets on Los Angeles in the 1980s when they caught the eye of a little-known firebreather, who tagged along to observe their work. That firebreather was Guy Laliberte, the future founder of Cirque du Soleil.
“There’s a sense that contemporary circus was invented in Australia and migrated here to Montreal,” Finch says.
“The founder of Cirque de Soleil saw Circus Oz and was obviously influenced by it and a whole bunch of other stuff and now there’s been a massive explosion of circus in Montreal. So it’s an exciting place for us to be.”
Circus Oz is doing a six-week tour of Cranked Up! in America and Canada before coming home to continue work on its new show, which will premiere under the big top in Melbourne in June.
Since it began 36 years ago, the company has performed in 26 countries to more than 3.5 million people.
Finch says the next show will be a dramatic departure from recent offerings and unlike anything Circus Oz has done before.