Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sustenance through circus arts

So, I was feeling pretty down today. It's not that uncommon for me here in London, feeling so detached from Cirque du Soleil and spending so much time by myself with the kids. From discussion with others, it sounds like this city is hard for everyone. For the CdS employees, they are spending long days in a dark theater, missing the fresh air and their familiar workspaces. For the accompanying tour members, we just feel isolated. A bit to our surprise, we are all looking forward to leaving London and going to Charlotte, North Carolina! Back to our familiar community and to more sunlight.

In any case, my day brightened immensely today when I left the kids with a babysitter and met some friends out at a show at the Royal Opera House, part of the London Mime Festival. The London Mime Festival is inappropriately named - it really has nothing to do with mime, as far as I can tell. It's billed as "a once a year chance to see the very best in contemporary visual theatre, featuring cutting edge circus-theatre, adult puppetry and animation, physical and object theatre." I wish I'd had a chance to see more of the shows, as the festival calendar was full of interesting things.

This show, the one I did get to see, was the duo Atelier Lefeuvre & Andre, with their show, Le Jardin. It was wonderful! Very French in its quirkiness, the 90-minute show included comic and acrobatic interactions with a wheelbarrow, a block of stone, a garden hose, and a newspaper. As I'm writing that, it doesn't sound nearly as interesting as it actually was. ...what really made the show compelling was the two characters and their evolving relationship. It continually amazes me how far ahead of the rest of the world French circus companies are. Even twenty years ago they were making work that had more meaning and sophistication than I've seen anywhere else.

As I joined my friends at the Opera House, we ran into numerous other friends and acquaintances, all going to see the show. Names that are a blast from the past - Charlie Holland, founder of Circus Space; Tim Roberts, Greg's old coach at Centre National des Arts du Cirque in France; and, the icing on the cake, my long-lost friend Camilla Ogard, who went to Circomedia with me in 1995-1996. Seeing her was an indescribable joy.

Leaving Covent Garden, I just felt at peace with the world. This is what circus does for me... the inspiration of seeing beautiful work, the companionship of watching a show with circus friends. And how familiar it all feels - like it's 1995 again and I'm surrounded by my Circomedia class, studying the mixed landscapes of circus and theatre.


  1. Hi Shana,

    I was saddened to hear that you were sad - I forget that you are living this life every day and it is not a constant vacation. But it was nice to find your day turned out so special after meeting up with sounds like in London you are more separate from the troupe than in other cities. Is that true and if so, why would that be?

    It will be nice to see you when you get back to the states. Classes continue to be a challenge for me but Kendra is very supportive, which I appreciate. We have fallen into a comfortable rhythm, our group, and it is pleasurable.

    Kate and I will work on brightening up Kitsie's world. Thanks for letting us know she needed some TLC...

  2. Thanks Lynda!
    I try not to complain, it really is oftentimes like a long vacation - just one with kids, which as you know isn't entirely restful! ...But I, of course, have a restless side to my personality, and a drive to accomplish things - so the quiet, unconnected times here can really drag me down.
    I'm so glad to hear that your classes with Kendra are going well. It really makes me happy, to imagine you all there.

  3. Hi Shana,
    just a quick hello, your words about feeling inspired and in peace is what resonates in my soul.. circus does that. ..
    Robin is excited about diving in into the "circus research" I will be leading that with Tracey.A good way to start the year.I will keep you posted.kisses Christy,

  4. I'm always in awe of people who perform in the circus, some of the contortions and actions they do are truly astounding!