My Theatre

28 February 2019

Cirque Éloize’s Hotel

By // Theatre (Toronto)

Cirque Éloize captures perfectly the bustle and glamour of a 1920’s art-deco hotel in their most recent show. Performed at the St. Lawrence Centre, Hotel is a great success, pleasing audiences from giggling toddlers to circus regulars and cynical viewers. Cirque Éloize tries an interesting new tactic for the world of contemporary circus in this show, where they aim for a clear narrative through-line, instead of a group of acts that work together on a theme. The show opens with a clear goal, fleshed out characters, and an exquisite set and costume design. As the show progresses, though, there is a disparity between the success of some acts and the loss of energy in others.

I am always watching for new shapes, transitions, and interesting twists on classic moves in a contemporary circus show. Cirque Éloize does not disappoint, and showcases many wonderful artists who have honed their crafts in years of study all over the world. Inspired hand-to-hand acts boast slow-motion spins and humorous entries while a wonderfully contemporary cyr wheel performance shows mastery of a difficult skill in unique body shapes. A juggling act is so imaginative in its set-up, flowing seamlessly into the narrative of the show, and the artist shines in his subtle way a littler later while displaying the creativity and control reminiscent of Michael Moschen in his famour performance of The Triangle. Especially noteworthy is Tuedon Ariri. Her character develops slowly, but stuns in a passionate, desperate, beautiful, and vulnerable act on aerial straps. I will absolutely be keeping an ear to the ground for murmurs about her.

The show lost me a little in some of the larger group acts. I find it much more effective when circus troupes perform their unison moments as tumbling choreography than dance. The movements were sweet and on-theme, to be sure, but they just landed a little flat knowing that the performers are capable of so much more. Additionally, I was excited when I saw the set-up begin for a Chinese pole act with two poles standing side-by-side, but was underwhelmed by an apparatus that usually has me gasping and teary-eyed. Finally, some of the clowning was a little disappointing, and although there were moments of brilliance, it seemed to not hit quite right.

Overall, I enjoyed my evening out with Cirque Éloize. I am always thrilled to see how contemporary circus is progressing, and even without a few minor hitches to the flow of the show, Hotel is another success for the company. It is a joy to see the skills and efforts of such talented artists on stage, and see real people with real joy on their faces. The music of the evening was brilliant, and the wonderful jazz singer that weaved throughout the evening really tied the performance up into a sparkling, glittering, jazzy bow.

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