SAY “circus” to most people these days and they are more likely to picture Cirque du Soleil than the conventional big top, with top hatted ringmaster, performing animals and tattooed trapeze artists.
The Canadian company has revolutionised the way we view circus – but there is a new generation of circus-influenced companies who combine the physical skills of the circus artists with mime and choreography which often owes more than a passing nod to the late Pina Bausch.
Hors Piste, a French company who came to Dorset with the 2012 Olympic-year Inside Out festival, was back in the county last week for a performance at Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre, under the auspices of Activate and Artsreach. It is part of a contemporary circus programme at the arts centre, and preparatory to an exciting series of site-specific Inside Out events in 2014.
The four performers, dressed in everyday clothes, in a shaky set of the kitchen and bedroom of a seedy house with peeling wallpaper, explore the ordinary and the everyday with wit, physical energy and skill and sharp observation.
Ordinary life suddenly seems strange, at times surreal. Two couples swap partners, explore the limitations of their drab kitchen with its table, chairs and doors that turn into cupboards. They cartwheel across the stage and over and off the table, balance on chair legs balanced on chairs, do handstands on their partners’ heads, tumble and roll, fold themselves into impossibly small places and stilt walk on alarmingly wobbly ladders.
Often breath-takingly daring, occasionally touching and frequently very funny, this was a curtain-raiser for delights to come in the autumn Lighthouse season and across Dorset next year. GPW
The show is back in our area in September, at Cranborne on 13th and Gillingham on 17th with Artsreach, Batcombe (Somerset) on 14th and Frome on 15th with Take Art, and at Bow in Devon on 21st September, with Villages in Action.