Circus review: S by Circa, Darebin Arts Centre
“S” by Circa. Picture: Darcy Grant Photography Source: Supplied
DON’T worry if you haven’t heard of Circa, one of Australia’s top circus companies. Based in Brisbane, they spend most of the time keeping up with demand overseas. This year a regional tour is also on the go, so they’ve been spreading Circa love closer to home.
STEPHANIE GLICKMAN DANCE CRITIC HERALD SUN MAY 28, 2014
This isn’t big-top tents and roving clowns, though. A Circa production is a highly choreographed ensemble production, more akin to a contemporary dance show than standard circus fare.
“S” occurs on an unadorned stage with a white floor tilted into a diamond shape. The show is inspired by the swirly, sizzling glory of the letter S. From this take-off point, it’s 85 minutes of frenetic acrobatic highs, contemplative interludes, and enough injections of paraphernalia such as hoops, tissu and Chinese straps to stay true to circus roots.
As is often the company’s practice, director Yaron Lifschitz devised the content with the cast. It has a collaborative feel within its tight staging and even though there are vignettes of solos or duos, it never strays from its ensemble ethos.
Despite an overly prescriptive musical montage (including Kronos Quartet and Samuli Kosminen), “S” remains ensconced in Circa’s fairly understated vibe. Probably because we’re always reminded (through simple glances between performers or casual entrances) that normal humans are behind all the ridiculously difficult physical displays.
Ordinary gestures and emotional themes unfurl into very un-ordinary bursts of kinetic prowess. Unusual interpretations of familiar circus acts and creative uses of equipment elevate stock standard ideas into something totally other. Why handstand on one person’s head when you can use two? Why not use the fabric of the tissu as if it's a sturdy Chinese pole? Nothing seems out of the question for Circa.
Like all Circa’s offerings, “S” is really about the performers and all the possibilities and wonder within their varying physicalities. From stocky to slender, short to tall and each highly virtuosic in their own way, the seven cast members all contribute plenty to the party.
There’s strong man Casey Douglas who’s surprisingly nimble for such a beefy fellow. The tiny but fierce Jessica Connell bases men on her shoulders and uses hula hoops stunningly. Brittannie Portelli is a muscle-ripped powerhouse who can flip off her wrists, forearms, shoulders and probably even her nose.
Along with Duncan West, Kimberly Rossi, Nathan Boyle and Daniel O’Brien, they burst forth with seemingly unending possibilities for movement invention. Team that with their commitment to working as a whole unit, rather than individual circus stars, and that ticks the boxes for something “S”pecial.