CULTURE

A circus of masks in which artists take to the skies

If one form of entertainment were to be singled out as a runaway success here – artistically and, especially commercially – over the past year, it would arguably have to be new-school circus. Several renowned international troupes, all exponents of the circus form’s most contemporary version, the common trait being no trace of animals, have been greeted by enthused and sold-out local audiences. A new thing here, and encouragingly distinctive amid a local entertainment scene rife with repetition and mundaneness, the introduction of internationally renowned new-school circus has proven a substantial commercial hit for local organizers. The action was ushered in a year ago by Canada’s Cirque Eloize for 24 sold-out performances of sensational acrobatics and live music blended into the one production. More recently, a French trapeze act Les Arts Sauts, also performed to capacity crowds in a high-technology dome specially set up at the Goudi Riding Center. Now, the latest such act to tour is Cirque Le Masque, a branch of the New York Circus Dance Theater, which will present its «Fire & Ice» show for two shows tomorrow and Sunday at the high-caliber International Festival of Music Theater being held in the city of Volos (Volos Municipal Theater, Riga Feraiou, tel 24210.32.818) and another 16 performances between January 10 and 22 in Athens (Athens College auditorium, 15 Stephanou Delta, Psychico, tel 210.679.8100). Most of the visiting troupe’s cast members stem from the Cirque Du Soleil troupe, a forerunner in new-school circus which had broken new ground in the early 1980s in Quebec, Canada by presenting a more artistic, theatrically inclined circus at a time when traditionalists were still whip-training their animals in line for prospective shows. Cirque Du Soleil’s «Fire & Ice» performance focuses on the human body. Its 23-member cast of multiethnic artists put on a thrilling show whose routines often defy gravity. The cast is made up of gifted performers with extensive stage experience in a variety of fields, including theater, dance, film, street theater and the circus. For ticket information for the Athens performances call 210.921.3310 or 210.921.3360.