REVIEW: Cirque Eloize Cirkopolis (at NYU Skirball Center)

Cirque Eloize Cirkopolis, Cirque Eloize’s latest show making it’s NYC premiere at the NYU Skirball Center through January 5) sits at the juncture of modern dance, performance art, and circus.  The show features some amazing visuals and some virtuoso performances by an ensemble of very talented acrobats. The show also features some amazing visuals, in the form of projections on a large screen that seem to bring the venue out of the theatre and into some impossible areas.

The show starts off with a nod to Kafka– a character with his back turned to us has to stamp papers for a bureacracy.  More and more papers get added to his pile, so much so that he finally has to start NOT stamping papers in order to go forward.    The papers make a surprise appearance at the end of the show as well

The acts are all beautifully accomplished.  Of special note are the Cyr wheel performance by Maude Arseneault, which is more like a modern dance with Cyr Wheel than a circus number.  The German wheel is also masterfully accomplished, and there is a really well done Chinese pole number as well.   Pretty much every act is well performed.

The charivari that follows the opening piece is so full of energy and amazing tricks, there is not really a moment to even applaud.  And the passing juggling number is filled with incredible complexity, and they manage to pull it off effortlessly.

Juggling Routine Cirkopolis

The jugglers perform complicated passing formations with ease.

The set is simple a backdrop/cyclorama that uses filmed projections to make us believe we are in the city.  It’s used to great effect especially during the trapeze and aerial numbers– the projections give us the illusion of floating high above the city .  During some of the other numbers, we zoom through buildings or tunnels to give the audience the feeling of moving through space.  It’s very well done, and a great example of how to apply the latest in theatre tech to the circus arts.

The German Wheel

The German Wheel

I enjoyed the show immensely, but I do have some cavils.  While there are some comic moments, there are no hilarious ones.  The mood is a little formal. The actors rarely smile, and you never really get a sense that they are playing in this room, in this moment, with this audience.  There’s not really a sense of spectacle and trick, but its more about the elegance and beauty of their movement.  That gives it the modern dance/performance art feel. There weren’t many applause breaks in the choreography, Their virtuosity was without question, but I wish that each of the performers had brought a little more of their personality and their… joie de vivre to the stage. That would have give the show just a little bit more oomph, and a little bit more humanity.

The show was still great, and like most Cirque Eloize shows, you’ll leave with an amazement for what the human body can accomplish.

Find out more about Cirque Eloize at http://www.cirqueeloize.com 

Tickets for CIRKOPOLIS range from $40 to $80 and may be purchased online at

www.nyuskirball.org, by phone at 212.352.3101 or 866.811.4111, or in person at the NYU Skirball
Center Box Office. The box office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 to 6:00 P.M. The
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington
Square, New York, New York 10012. For more information and a complete list of showdates , please visit www.nyuskirball.org

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