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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 16, No. 9

Acrobats Invade Montreal

by Crystal Chan / June 13, 2011

Flash version here

One of the most highly anticipated acts of Montreal’s second annual Complètement Cirque Festival (July 7 – 16) is the Montreal premiere of Le Cirque Invisible, the celebrated couple act consisting of Victoria Chaplin (Charlie’s daughter) and Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée. Their act is a mélange of puppets, mime, and tightrope. A clowny-theatre piece, wholly eccentric.

Popular local troupe Les 7 doigts de la main, well known for their ensemble acts, puts co-founder Patrick Léonard forward in an all-new one-man show which blends acrobatics with theatre, dance, and music. And following the popularity of last year’s inaugural cabaret, 7 doigts is offering a 2011 edition of its glamour-filled revue at the appropriately old-school Théâtre Olympia. Not for children. Montreal’s most famous “local” circus also rolls back into town: those that missed last summer’s Cirque du Soleil premiere of Totem, the Robert Lepage-directed show loosely tracing Darwinian evolution, can catch it again down in the old port.

The fest kicks off with C!rca’s daredevil show Wunderkammer (Chamber of Wonders), in town from Australia. The seven acts include a swinging trapeze number with the added danger of not merely a femme fatale in heels, but a femme fatale in heels who uses her upside-down partner’s open mouth as a step to hoist herself up on the seat; in another act, a performer plunges down headfirst, trusting two of his troupe members to catch him.

Their fellow countrymen, the Australian Tom Tom Crew, bring a dance club feel to a series of gravity-defying acts. These circus artists are also musicians: expect beatboxing, scratching, and drumming to join the physical stunts.

Live music also plays a big role in family company Alphonse’s Timber! A Quebecois folk tale told through music and circus, Timber! features artists that have previously made up the ranks of companies such as Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Éloize. Le Chant du dindon (The Turkey’s Song), a retro big top show, will also prominently feature a four-piece gypsy ensemble. This North American premiere will be especially good for children (and children-at-heart).

Also from France: Miroir Miroir, a short solo tour de force featuring trapezist and dancer Mélissa Von Vépy and accompanied by pianist Stéphan Oliva. Von Vépy has created a contraption that is both trapeze and cracked mirror. Riffing on Through the Looking Glass and the Narcissus myth, her piece features a sort of pas de deux between her and her shattered reflection.

Kids don’t like vegetables? A zany food fight of a show from Ireland’s Cirque de Légume is sure to put a new comic spin on produce. Families will also cheer the return of last year’s popular Tous cousins!, the work of a Belgian clown duo, Sébastien Derock and Olivier Mahiant, who cleverly blend music and physical comedy. Belgian funnymen Okidok bring us another family-friendly farce that features no words, no props, and no clothing (the clowns are clad in undershorts).

Belgians of another stripe are presenting Le Carré Curieux. This show takes classic disciplines—unicycle, Chinese pole, diabolo—and advances them to a point where they become unrecognizable (the unicycle, for example, is hidden beneath a giant hoop skirt).

For free, equine enthusiasts can enjoy a nine-horse show by La Famile Innocenti or an art expo centred on horses, both at TOHU. Other ticketless events include one where festival-goers can try their hand at trapeze workshops with Cirque Carpe Diem. As part of an effort to literally infuse the entire metropolis with circus, there will also be free events in St-Michel (all around the TOHU hub), St-Léonard (a one-time show by trio act Throw 2 Catch at Parc Wilfrid-Bastien), Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (look out for two complete shows by comic acrobats Les Parfaits Inconnus) and Verdun (including an African flavoured ticketed event that blends Guinean and Western circus arts named Kô Ryass and free events presented by Théâtre de l’Aubergine, the École de cirque de Verdun, Cirque Carpe Diem, and Throw 2 Catch). You can catch the stars of tomorrow throughout the festival as part of Hors Piste, a series of street performances by alternative artists. And nightly after 9 p.m. at Théâtre Olympia, there’s a cover-free official after-show party.


(c) La Scena Musicale