Seven Fingers: Traces

March 16, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Show Review | Leave a comment
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After two years, the Seven Fingers circus company returned to Wellington, New Zealand, as part of the Wellington International Festival of the Arts.

Mar 16, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

It was amazing. This seems to be the direction of modern circus: amazing moves woven into dance, the latter all fitting loosely into a theme with appropriate music. These guys danced, sang, played the piano, and did some great acrobats and juggling.

There was a very nice tribute to Fred Astaire – involving skateboards instead of walking canes!

The juggling was low key no showers of 7-9 objects in the air. Instead as people danced about the stage, the chair of basket ball was constantly in motion – just as the ball or chair or person was about to fall to the ground, someone would step up and catch them.

It looked like they could all play the piano and did a solo piece accompanying what every was going on behind them. One of them even sang to the audience, accompanying himself on the guitar!!

The Chinese nolonger have a monoploy on pole aerials. The ‘Fingers’ did some petty amazing stuff. My pick was the vertical back flick from the pole then back to the pole, and the lady who falls from the top to be caught by her companions – amazing body control and trust!

The acrobats was spectacular. My pick was the standing back tucked somersault, from a position of standing on top of someones raised hands back to the same raised hands! There was also a nice slow semi-comic stretch and flexibility solo – by the same woman who fell from the pole.

These guys are worth seeing – everytime.

The only question is: where were the other two fingers ? there were only five performers!

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They were so popular, that they opened the ‘Gods’ – the Gallery – in the Opera House. They had to: my session was near full to capacity – well over 1000 people.

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Cirque Ici : performance art

March 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Play Review | 2 Comments
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I went to see Cirque Ici at the Arts Festival. I was expecting a modern circus show; I got something quite different – but just as entertaining.

Mar 14, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This is a one-man play about … a circus performance. What a circus though – there are animals, machines, jugggling, balancing and knife swallowing.

The first Act is the animal tamer, but being a one-man play – there are no animals. Instead there is a series of fur covered geometric shapes that pop open and shut, swallow the animal tamer, and a wire cylinder that splits open and sits up when commaned to ! There is the tubular animal – a 4-meter long metal rod that after bending to the handlers’ will spirals back-and-forth and sits up!

The middle Acts blurred together: counter rotating wheels sharing a common axle, rolling itself with candles across the ciecle; meat cleaver tossing and knife swallowing – at least it seemed that way; a paper falcon; a metal horse with many legs; a human arch; and a tame whirlwind!

The finale was a spiral, made of 2″ by 8″ by 120″ interlocking planks and some rope. The rope was used to stop the planks from popping out, the latest piece was always ‘inserted’ will the performer stood on th end of the previous plank ! By the time he was finished, he was able to hand by his finger tips – and his feet did not touch the ground.

It was fitting that at the other end of Frank Kitts Park stood the Len Lye water sculpture. Surely, if the spirit of the late Len was present he would have approved heartily.

All of the acts looked like they were choreographed by da Vinci for Marceau Marcel- there was a huge amount of science on display in a Renassance kind of way and Johann did not speak at all, though he did make rasping sounds for emphasis.

The horse was an upside down bed of nails, with close 1-metre long nails. It supported Johann’s weight, and it moved across the – round – stage when he rocked backwards and forwards when setted atop of it.

The trained bird that returned to his hand, was a very well folded paper aeroplane!

The human arch was an archway made from a set of encylopedias, with Johann acting as the keystone. The showmanship as he stacked the books was superb – keeping the audience gripped, watching, what might otherwise have been a mundane task.

The whirlwind was just some smoke held captive by four planar blowers.

While I have classified the performance as a one-man play, I might also have classified it as performance art. If my lounge was big enough, and it was for sale, I would have tried to purchase the wooden spiral.

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This work – with a commentary -could be presented to school children to educate them about physics.

Gravity and Other Myths et al in Civic Square

March 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Show Review | 3 Comments
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I went to Fused Productions’ 2008 version of “Gravity and Other Myths” at Civic Square. The permanent fixture suspended above the Square, a sphere composed of silver ferns, added to the atmosphere.

Mar 08, 2008 by Show_Hanger

The main act was an evolutionary step from Fused’s 2007 work of the same name. Footnote opened the evening’s entertainment and I was disappointed – less on this later. A stand-up comedian then warmed-up the crowd for the main act: Vinyl Blank.

Vinyl had to really work, to get the crowd onside and generally relaxed. To his credit, I think he did a good workman like job. He struggled a bit to get to grips with the audience, but he got there. His sense of humour did not always sit well with everyone – there was wide range of ages in the audience; but when he started working circus moves in, the timeless ageless magic brought everyone together. He had some good diablo moves. How many people can unicycle and play the guitar !

Fused’s Big Rig was set up so that the audience was under the silver sphere or could see it over the venue – a constant reminder of ‘gravity’. Fused were up to their usual high standards: spectacular aerial work on tissu, hoop, rope and swining trapeze; and some nice hoops, juggling, strength and flexibility work on the ground. The girl-in-a-box was back too !

Fused have tweaked their work from last year and made general enhancements across the board. For me the most spectacular change is that placement of two performers on the swinging trapeze. Only one of which have a safety harness! I am told by those in the know that having two harness would actually decrease safety – as the harness ropes get tangled up. It certainly added a real wow factor. The man on a burning rope was the finale – boy it is spectatcular.

This year, things were a little more polished: there was slightly more ‘acting’ and stronger portrail of the ‘aliens studying gravity and other phenomena’ theme. Full marks for working the tricks into a theme.

Fused need to pay a little bit more attention to their surroundings: some of the fire juggling, hoop throwing and girl-in-a-box was hard to see if you were not sitting on the steps or at the front. While a stage maybe impractical, if these acts could have raised up, they would have been more visible. Maybe a temporary platform that can be worked into the theme. Fused have an entertaining product, and they need ensure that they show it off at its best.

Footnote opened, and they have made no significant advances since they air-ed their piece last month at the Fringe Festival. I am still waiting for the mature dance&aerial work – with a smooth integration of aerial elements into the general story telling or concept. Where the use of aerial moves is used because it is the best move in the toolkit to advance the story; not look I learnt this trick, and this other trick. At the moment it is a modern dance piece immediately followed by a display of aerial skills. What ever was going on in the dance portion – beaches, swimming ? – was not supported by the aerial portion.

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