Last weekend, Circa, contemporary circus troupe thrilled the house in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC with their touring show, OPUS. The bold, Brisbane-based performers were accompanied onstage by the Debussy String Quartet, blending the live music and thrilling acrobatics into a one of a kind show.
The Circa: Opus musical repertoire included 4 pieces by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, which were the background for the stunning movements of the Circa performers. With the addition of the live musical performances, Circa elevated, both figuratively and literally, the standard circus human tricks, creating a work that was a sensual, dance-like partnership between the strings and stunts. Some moments featured just a single acrobat soaring above the stage while others included the full 14 performer troupe. First appearing dressed in their Sunday best, black trousers and white shirts on the men and simple dresses for the ladies made the troupe’s acrobatics seem even more surprising as they leapt out of the image given by their outfits. Later they pared the costumes down to simple black trunks and one pieces to create a more sexy, athletic image.
The Circa performance displays influences of almost every form of athletic movement into their 80 minute performance; artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, tumbling, aerial work on trapeze, silk and straps, and even a bit of breakdancing. The daring leaps, spins and tumbles brought out audible gasps as the audience was left mesmerized by the Circa performers. The beautiful Chan Shun Concert Hall’s acoustics carried the strings across the audience only broken by the sounds of the foot falls, performer’s bodies hitting the mat and occasionally the music was so subtle that the athletes’ breathing became an accompanying rhythm to the violins. Unlike other circus acrobatic shows, the Circa performers kept mostly quiet, only in one act which require some more blind leaps of faith did we hear anything audible from the stage.
From the feeling in the auditorium, Circa: Opus left most of the audience gasping for more and thoroughly exhilarated by what was put before them. It definitely left us hoping for a return engagement of this or another of Circa’s touring shows.