By Brooklynn Wong
Circa Contemporary Circus’ name is a bit misleading. One pictures an old-fashioned circus with animals and a ringleader, or a cheesy group of acrobats and stuntmen.
Circa is anything but that. The performing group from Australia put on a show for a sizable crowd at Chapman University’s Musco Center for the Arts in the city of Orange on Jan. 23 that was more contemporary dance than circus, save for its very impressive exploits with ropes, swings, a wall, and each other, rising to frightening heights and performing remarkable drops and shows of strength.
The performance followed a storyline as well, following the music of the opera “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria,” or The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland.
And the music deserves a mention all its own. A few live musicians sat onstage playing pianos and stringed instruments, including a harp, and a man and woman sang opera on and off throughout.
A group of seven individuals served as the dancer-acrobats, wearing gray and performing in front of a nondescript background, so their incredible strength and flexibility, as well as the live music, remained the focus.
A few moments were overly dramatic and seemed to cross too much over into acting, and seemed out of place against the pleasantly homogenous backdrop of flowing music and movement.
Overall, the performance was stunning and incredibly unique, and comments overheard walking away from it indicated the same.
Performance videos and tour dates can be seen on the group’s website at circa.org.au.