For decades now, Montreal, the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, has been luring talented circus performers into its internationally acclaimed troupes, yet it’s only been in the last four years that Circus festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CIRQUE has packed much of that talent, along with that of troupes from around the world, into two weeks of awe-inspiring shows…
In its fourth year, MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CIRQUE is bigger than ever, with 14 featured circus shows on through July 3-14, almost all of them family friendly and impressive in both their artistry and the performers’ physical stamina. UK troupe Gandini Juggling’s humorous show Smashed makes its North American premier, with nine jugglers throwing and catching 80 apples in a sometimes absurdist, sometimes pop-culture-infused series of breathtaking choreography.
New troupe Flip Fabrique comes in from Ottawa to hold the grand premiere of Attrape-Moi, a six-acrobat show that plays like a party, complete with trampowall (yes, a wall that is a trampoline – every kid will want one now). In another North American premier, France’s favourite jester, Ludor Citrik, challenges a black-and-white world of authority with his daring in Qui Sommes-Je? Spain’s Escarlata Circus premiers Pugilatus, an eccentric show from an outlandish, character-changing duo. Fittingly Canadian, Nord Nord Est’s Le Voyage d’Hiver mixes circus with theatre, opera, poetry and thoughts of love in a time of cynicism. Another Canadian production, Fabrique Métamorphosis, by Ironworkers – Local 777, sets a team of fearless ironworkers against a big-screen urban backdrop of skyscrapers in the high-tech, 360-degree Satosphere dome at the Société des Arts et Technologiques.
France’s Face Nord comes to the festival to premier Un Loup Pour L’homme for a North American audience, focusing on the talents of four incredibly fit acrobats as they jokingly battle each other for physical supremacy, at Gare Dalhousie. At the same venue, see what improvised circus looks like with L’impro Cirque, a combo of circus acts and live music. Australian acrobat troupe Propaganda makes its North American premier with a quirky show of the same name, full of strange characters and physical feats. Swiss acrobat, musician and all-around amazing performing David Dimitri comes to Montreal with his creation L’homme-Cirque, weaving a world of humour and magic.
The avant-garde side of circus shows up too in Cirque Céans’s Croisé, an exploratory show from the Creation and Exploration workshop of the National Circus School. And proving that anything goes in circus and that not every circus is suitable for the whole family, the festival also hosts shows like Music-Hall de la Baronne, a collaboration between Montréal Complètement Cirque and Cirque Éloize, celebrating Cirque Éloize’s 20th anniversary with a cabaret-like show of circus acts and sketch comedy that’s more than a little sexy. Also on the sexier and seductive side is not-to-be-missed S, from Australian troupe Circa, a show as emotional as it is physical in its celebration of the expressiveness of the human body.
Along with all of its feature shows, the festival brightens up the outdoor spaces of the Quartier des Spectacles as well, with impromptu circus acts in the streets: clowns, jugglers and acrobats make use of urban architecture and might even get a few willing audience members to get in on the act themselves. As well, adults and kids alike can head out to Montreal’s dedicated circus centre, La Tohu, to participate in circus workshops and activities (including trapeze practice) that reveal a little of the magic behind why the modern circus is such a dynamic and fascinating form of art and entertainment.
Montréal Complètement Cirque, July 3-14, 2013