“‘S’ by Circa”
[Becket, MA] – Bringing circus arts into the 21st century, the astonishing performers of the Australian company Circa return to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Directed by Yaron Lifschitz, their new evening-length production “S” combines circus extravagance, including acrobatics and mind-bending feats of strength, with sophisticated contemporary dance technique. Seven performers including gymnasts, physical theatre masters, and contortionist artists are accompanied by mesmerizing recorded music from Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen, percussionist Samuli Kosminen, and the Kronos Quartet. Kelli Rogers of The Australian comments “’S’ will test any preconceived ideas you may have about the physical limitations of the human body.” This ensemble company will perform in five shows July 30-August 3 at the Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theatre.
“Circa takes the traditions of the daring, athletic, and astonishing circus art that we recognize to a new and exciting place,” says Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff. “They’re really a contemporary movement company who are breakthrough artists in their field, creating highly choreographed, sophisticated work. It’s like nothing else.”
From Brisbane, Australia, the company members of Circa come from diverse artistic backgrounds, with specialties ranging from martial arts to contortion to break dance. Members of Circa have performed with Cirque Eloize, ThisSideUp Acrobatics, English National Ballet, at the 2005 World Expo in Japan, in the national tour of Circus Girl, and at the 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony in Australia. Circa’s choreography brings a signature style of highly intricate acrobatic combinations, mixed with athletic tumbling sequences, and topped with contemporary dance. This multi-talented troupe made its Pillow debut in 2012 with a performance at the 80th Festival Gala and a week-long engagement in the Doris Duke Theatre. Claudia La Rocco of The New York Times notes that the Australian ensemble’s Pillow debut brought “daredevilry…moments of high silliness…[and] moments of sublime physical delicacy and subtlety.”
Circa returns to Jacob’s Pillow with a work centered around the alphabet’s 19th letter, “S.” This work offers a compilation of physical theatre, contemporary choreography, aerial dance, and remarkable acts of strength, flexibility, and endurance rooted in an exploration of the sound and shape of the letter. The movement quality ranges from smooth, swirling combinations to sharp stillness, emphasizing the talent and unique circus training of the artists.
The stark set and lighting design showcase the mastery of the performers in “S.” Dressed in simple black costumes, the seven men and women of Circa bend, soar, and contort in non-narrative solos and ensemble sequences on a tilted white diamond-shaped stage to the music of “Uniko” by Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen, and the Kronos Quartet. “‘Uniko’ is like an ocean tide coming in,” comments New York Times writer Bernard Holland. “Big waves of sound build in complexity, animation and sometimes sheer frenzy, then abruptly retreat into small lyrical moments.”
Artistic Director and CEO of Circa, Yaron Lifschitz is a graduate of the University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, and National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), where he was the youngest director ever accepted into its prestigious graduate directing course. Since graduating, Lifschitz has directed over 60 productions including large-scale events, opera, theatre, physical theatre and circus. He was founding Artistic Director of the Australian Museum’s Theatre Unit, Head Tutor in Directing at Australian Theatre for Young People, and has been a regular guest tutor in directing at NIDA since 1995. Lifschitz is recognized as a director who collaborates closely with his casts to create ensemble works such as “S.” Since the company’s founding in 2006, Circa, under the direction of Lifschitz, has toured 30 countries.
Performance and ticket information
Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, July 30—Saturday, August 2, 8pm
Sunday, August 3, 2pm
Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Philip Szporer are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before each performance
Free Post-Show Talk with artists from Circa will take place immediately following the performance on Friday, August 1 at the Ted Shawn Theatre.
Tickets $39-59. $10 Youth Tickets for select performances. Now on sale online at jacobspillow.org, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.
Box Office hours: Sun, Mon, Tues, 11am-5pm; Wednesday- Saturday, 11am-8pm
Free PillowTalk: How Like An Angel
Friday, August 1, 5pm
This unusual film combines the daredevil physicality of Circa with a live performance of baroque music in the breathtaking beauty of several historic English cathedrals, introduced by Circa performers Libby McDonnell and Jason Organ. FREE
For more information, visit www.jacobspillow.org.
[Photo of Circa by Darcy Grant]