A dim light hangs low centre stage, swinging gently side to side, illuminating the contortion of the artist below. I say artist because that’s what each of these performers were. S was not your average circus show with clowns and brightly coloured costumes. It was minimalist, simple, stripped back and bare. It is a performance that plays on the impossible, a show that pushes what we perceive to be human. It gave the performers (Jessica Connell, Gerramy Marsden, Daniel O’Brien, Brittannie Portelli, Kimberley Rossi) room to have their craft distilled, to highlight the sensitivity and artistry of acrobatics.
Created by Yaron Lifschitz, S used the shape and sound of the letter to produce something modern and unusual. It was a visual feast. The strength and dexterity of each of the artists was phenomenal, however, it was the fusion of contemporary dance and circus that set this show apart from others.
As for the acrobatics itself, it was unconventional and unique. It used elements of traditional circus acts such as balancing water bowls and spinning multiple hula-hoops (Jessical Connell), however, the combination of these with the music made entirely new acts out of classic ideas. The show featured music from the Kronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonon and Samuli Kosminen, which combined eastern tonality with western structure, resulting in high intensity pieces that impassioned the performers and the audience too.
One thing that really struck me was the versatility of each of the performers. Each was able to carry at least two other cast members, flip and fly and contort themselves, and balance and control each of their movements. It was this characteristic of the cast that made for a cohesive performance – a sense of cooperation and interdependence that made the production fluid and uninterrupted.
Libby McDonell’s decision to put the performers in simple black leotards/pants was very effective and worked well with Jason Organ’s stark lighting– it left every muscle exposed for the audience to marvel at. That’s really what the show celebrated, the determination and bravery to push one’s body to its limit.
Circa’s S had the Riverside’s audience on the edge of their seat – people ooh’d and ahh’d throughout regardless of age. It took me back to the magic of circus, otherworldly and impossible, but this time sinuous, sleek and sophisticated.