Review: CIRCA: HUMANS Brings Exquisitely Choreographed Athletic Artistry to The Wallis
Making its debut as The Wallis' first foray into contemporary circus, Australian company Circa brought HUMANS, its tribute to what it means to be fiercely human, offering a thrilling and heart-stopping performance by ten acrobats from this award-winning contemporary circus ensemble who pushed the boundaries of physical possibilities during their extraordinary 70 minutes of exquisitely choreographed athletic artistry.
Based in Brisbane since 2004, Circa Contemporary Circus is one of the world's leading performance companies, blurring the lines between movement, dance, theatre and circus acrobatics. Created by Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble, HUMANS premiered in 2017 at Australia's Sydney Festival and has gone on to tour the world, performing in over 40 countries to over a million people. No doubt there will be many more appearances on the horizon since the award-winning Circa's creations have been greeted with standing ovations and sold-out houses across six continents. So it was no surprise to be part of the same adulation during their recent two-day appearance on November 1 and 2 at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
"HUMANS, the latest of over 50 shows created by Circa, has never before been seen on a professional stage in Southern California," says The Wallis' Artistic Director Paul Crewes, "and we expect this groundbreaking ensemble's stunning athleticism to leave audiences with the joy and the artistry of circus." And I can certainly add not only that, but also the type of awe and wonder that leaves you breathless!
Circa is at the forefront of the new wave of contemporary Australian circus, pioneering how extreme physicality can create powerful and moving performances. Its reputation for fearless, boundary-pushing new circus is borne out in every one of its shows, which combine physical virtuosity with an expressive humanism, thanks to the great physical and artistic skills of its ten members Caroline Baillon, Marty Evans, Piri Lee Goodman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Cecilia Martin, Hamish McCourty, Daniel O'Brien, Kimberley O'Brien, Jarrod Takle, and Sandy Tugwood. HUMANS is directed by Yaron Lifschitz, with Jason Organ as Technical Director and Costume Design by Libby McDonnell.
Exploring the physical limits of their bodies, which appear to be non-existent given how remarkably limber and strong each member appears to be, the group's movements reflected not only life's burdens, but the redemptive power in the physical and emotional strength it takes to overcome them. Human towers were created involving several combinations of members, with each one morphing into a new creation as bodies intertwined like rubber bands rather than beings with bones!
Artists fly on ropes, silks, as well as a trapeze and hoop, offering a dazzling display of anti-gravity ability in the air as well as on the ground as bodies were thrown as if weightless, caught with the grace of honoring what it is to be human and free of earthly restraints. Gasps of wonder often greeted the most spectacular moments in HUMANS, of which there were too many to count or remember for this review.
I encourage you to visit circa.org.au to find a Circa performance near you so you can discover why the human circus performers continue to dazzle audiences around the world with their exquisitely choreographed athletic artistry. Performances are perfect for audiences of all ages who can feast their eyes on the wonder which CIRCA shares through movement choreographed to emotionally effective music selections, without a word needing to be uttered.
Photo credit: Kevin Parry