Hop Aboard a Circus Train Bound for the Magical in Everyday Life
by YU Tai-jung
Beginning in the 1970s, the main characters on circus stages started evolving from trained animals (a highly contentious issue) to putting on shows of how human beings push their own physical boundaries. In addition to seeing fascinating performances, audiences today can also experience how stories are told differently in the big tops compared with those on theater and dance stages. The opening of Canadian circus collective Les 7 Doigts de la Main's Passagers is a perfect example: seven performers are seated on chairs, breathing in sync, and through clever arrangement, begin to diverge, their overlapping breathing tempos turning into an invisible train. On the stage of circus, which always embraces the imagination, their bodies, breathing (ever trying to keep up with their bodies), and modern images of machinery come together.
The collective, from Canada's French-speaking region of Quebec, formed in 2002 with seven circus performers. Their name means "hand with seven fingers," indicating both the extraordinary abilities of circus performers and the equal need for each finger to make a complete hand. It also emphasize on how the performers are equals and individuals and how they complement each other in the company. Their first piece, Loft, had no director; the seven created it together, each contributing their skills in acrobatics, tricks, and dance, and then blending that with multimedia effects.
Though each of the members has performed with the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil, they decided to cut their own path in trying out different performance styles and methods of creation. Their works are not showy like those of Cirque du Soleil; instead, they keep their methods and the stage concise and refined. Their circus skills and humor provide insight into human nature while provoking moments of laughter. The name of the piece, Passagers, as you may have guessed, means "passengers." In addition to feats in the use of aerial silks, aerial hoops, cable wires, and poles, they explore how the train, a product of the Industrial Revolution, led to the rise of the "passenger," an identity that only exists while one is traveling somewhere. The piece gives us a look at the moods of people from other places, how people and public spaces interact, and how railroad equipment and large circus apparatus echo each other.
Before directing Cirque du Soleil's first show on ice, Crystal, trapeze artist and Passagers director Shana CARROLL often played the role of movement designer and choreographer in Cirque du Soleil. She focuses on the possible metaphors of the different acts in circus and then develops the performance content based on that. She is especially adamant about instilling a strong, realistic sense of emotion, which is frequently achieved by acts that challenge the performer's body to the extreme. Such shows require the performers to be totally into it, so even though CARROLL is the director, during the early phases of creation, the devising and improvisation are keys in discovering the piece and giving it creative depth. So with Passagers, we see not only the amazing skill of the performers but also how it is integrated into the train, railway, tunnels, and platforms, pointing and responding to the individual’s memories, existence, and self-discovery.
The performing arts are becoming more and more multimedia-based, cross-genre and interdisciplinary. Passagers presents the massive potential and adaptivity of circus. For those audiences who may be more familiar with dramas and dance performances, this piece will show them how circus can integrate these other art forms in creating a more free-flowing type of performance, allowing the stories, characters' states of mind, imagery, performers, and circus arts to jointly engage in moments that cross and swing between the everyday and the magical.
Top Hash Tags
You May Also Like
The Most Brilliant Thing: Being Captured by Theater
I was actually not into interactive performances for a long time and frequently felt alienated by even those full of positive energy, but one such piece, Every Brilliant Thing, changed my view of why theater is still so important in contemporary society over the past few years. This plain, simple, yet strongly therapeutic one-man show seems to remind me (us) of why we need to sit with a bunch of strangers to watch performances and share our feelings.
2023 FACP Annual Conference in Kaohsiung at "Everyone's" Weiwuying
From November 23 to 26, 2023, Weiwuying and the Federation for Asian Cultural Promotion (FACP) put on the 2023 Annual Conference of the FACP in Kaohsiung, whose theme was "Next Stage, Green Generation – Sustainability in Culture and Performing Arts," discussing how to make the performing arts sustainable and recent developments. A new aspect of the event was Pitch for New Aspects, for which submissions from young artists around the world were recruited with the incentive of prize money.