On any day of the week, Beijingers can catch myriad homegrown acrobatics shows ranging from the cheesy to the, ahem, chic (see feature, opposite). But, this month, the French will also present their ultra-modern take on circus acts to Chinese audiences for the first time. Prepare to flip out about the ‘nouveau cirque weekend’, an innovative three days of shows brought to the capital by the Croisements Festival.
Ieto (Thur 16 June); Zahrbat (Fri 17 June); Cinématique (Sun 19 June) are all at Dongcheng Cultural Center
Nouveau cirque, or ‘new circus’, eschews the hackneyed aspects of elephants, clowns and large troupes in favour of a more individualistic style of acrobatic extravaganza. This takes the form of three per formances: Ieto by the Ieto Company (Thursday 16), Zahrbat by dancer Brahim Bouchelaghem (Friday 17) and Cinématique by the Adrien M Company (Sunday 19).
In Ieto, two acrobats throw down, using two planks, three ropes and a lot of meaningful staring, twisting and (no dir ty thoughts here, please) inter twining. So what does nouveau cirque mean for Fnico Feldmann, one of Ieto’s two stars?
‘In our show, sequences are linked: they repeat in different par ts of the show and there is an overall structure,’ he explains.
‘There is also more research regarding the drama, the game and the dance. All of this is what we call nouveau cirque. It’s still circus, because there is still the search for risk and daring exploits. There is dance, theatre, comedy and acrobatics – for example, my partner [Mosi Abdu Espinoza navarro] is on stage as a tightrope walker.’
For dancer and choreographer Adrien Mondot, who meshes juggling, music, drama and digital art in his show Cinématique, the nouveau cirque movement is a chance to explore the world of imagination – in a modern context. he says: ‘Beyond the fascination of images, my aim is to exploit the immense possibilities of modern tools while throwing in an element of error, fragility, perhaps even poetry, in order to enter the world of post-digital entertainment, where technology is no longer a pretence.’
All sound a bit much? Then try Zahrbat, one man’s poignant journey told through contemporary dance. In the show, the solo hip-hop and break dancer Brahim Bouchelaghem pays tribute to his late father, a gambling addict. This is hip-hop minus the gold chains and ass-shaking; think instead of something a little more charming and sad, a story of love and loss that, perhaps, we can all relate to.