Australian touring company Circa has graced Toronto’s stage again, and we loved it. Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz’s newest creation, HUMANS, gives everyone a little of what they want. There were gasps and applause at amazing circus feats from the audience, reverential silence in awe, some giggles, and overall the feeling of amazement. I stand by the idea that those who appreciate contemporary circus the most are those of us in that world – that understand how intensely difficult moving through a reverse-meathook is. While the greater audience may appreciate the beauty, it is difficult to understand just how much time and effort goes into these artists’ skills if you yourself have not worked day in and day out at the same. I must commend each and every artist on the stage at the Sony Centre for their passion, hard work, and dedication to their craft.
I was thrilled to be able to see this show, as I had seen Circa perform back in 2014. I was looking forward to seeing what difference, if any, four years could have on a company already so highly regarded. I found HUMANS to be fluid and clear, absolutely polished, and a lovely performance. In the past, I had found the skill of the individuals to be top-level, but there were moments left wanting, energetically, and not enough unison moments to give the show a feeling of togetherness. In HUMANS, we really see the force of the group as a whole, which was an absolute treat. The artists pair off in duets or solos, but the moments of greatest effect are when the group moves as one. Daring tumbling passes and intricate choreography brings all artists together and the true impact and talent of the troupe can really be seen. They move cat-like through the space, absorbing the floor and twisting in deliciously unexpected ways. I was so impressed at how some of the artists could perform their intense acrobatics with hardly a sound of hand or foot hitting the stage.
The theme of this show, what it really means to be human and how we can push our physical boundaries absolutely shone through the movement. How or who we can depend on to assist or carry us through our lives was demonstrated in playful games, almost child-like, of keep-off-the-floor. How far can a body travel through space, and in what creative ways, without using the ground in assistance? How much can a body bear, and where do our limitations lie? The artists push themselves to such beautiful heights, and showcase a massive range of dynamics, humour, stillness, tenderness, power, and joy. The piece is composed beautifully, ebbing and flowing at just the right moments to give interlude or to push the audience farther and farther. My only complaint would be a lack of a little introduction- the show begins with such a powerful punch, there isn’t really a moment where the audience is able to settle in and be introduced to the artists and the feel of the show.
Overall, I was impressed and pleased with Circa’s most recent production. The group is near flawless, and the show is crafted with care and intensity. Bodies were shown off in incredible skill, and the performance makes me hopeful and happy for the future of contemporary circus. I thank the company for their massive tour, and know that while audiences may not be quite ready for such beautiful contemporary circus, that we definitely need it in our lives.