Circa – Humans is the brain child of Yaron Lifschitz. Creator. Artistic Director. Empresario. A native of Australia, this is his Salford helping of jaw-dropping, mind-numbing, acrobatic excellence.
Tonight’s offering sees his troupe of skilled artists take to the stage dressed in figure hugging genderless costume. Gold, rust and silver shorts topped with black, loose-fitting tops. As we find our seats the cast members prowl the stage in various states of undress. Svelte, chiselled bodies carefully mark their territory before the event begins.
A sole cast member makes his way on to the stage carrying, what appears to be, a bundle of clothes, he undresses and places the clothes before him. Music plays. Suddenly and slowly the bundle of clothes begins to move. From within a female moves. Writhes. Fits and starts. Her body arches and contorts as she releases herself. The cast, of which, I believe there are 10, join her on stage.
Humans is a blend of dance, acrobatics, trapeze and banquine. I’m trying to recall where I’ve seen this type of thing before and I can’t quite place it.There is no obvious story, yet a tale exists. It’s reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil but fuss has been stripped away. This is an intimate study in dance, but the dance isn’t the focus. What we do have is performance – the kind we’d expect at the circus, but the circus has been reinvented. Modernised. If you blink, you’d forget that the roots of the circus heavily inform the core of this work.
Forward somersaults, backwards somersaults, handstands – right-handed, then left-handed. Human poses where bodies link together. Balanced together, in impossible angles all drawing gasps and applause from the audience.
The second half of the evening is no less relentless. It sees a greater reliance on some remarkable rope (cord) work. Gifted female artists nimbly demonstrate, what can only be, the result of hours, weeks and years of training. Spin. Rotate. Spin. Rotate. Spin Rotate. Hang. Even the slight losses of balance look premeditated. Intentional. We’re hooked!
Each phase of the event is underpinned by an equally charged and well curated piece of music the choices include Lajko Felix’s El Cavillo and Vincent Peirani’s Waltz for JB. These define the highbrow component of the show. James Brown’s ‘Please, Please, Please’ and Andy Williams’ ‘The Impossible Dream’ provide the comic relief as the cast try to rhythmically respond and interpret to the song’s lyrics whilst engaging in a surreal moment where they try desperately to lick their own elbows as we watch eagerly, willing them to succeed.
Circa: Humans offers a wealth of death-defying acrobatics, with a modern twist, that really does catapult the circus tradition into the 21st century.★ ★ ★ ★