CULTURE

Wanderers and circus magic

In 1993, seven young graduates of the Ecole Nationale de Cirque of Montreal from Quebec’s Magdalene Islands joined forces to create a new style within the sphere of circus art. This gave rise to the Cirque Eloize (named after the lighting that lights the skies of the Magdalene Islands), which since then has given over 1,400 performances in more than 200 cities around the world. Following a series of sold-out performances of a previous production, «Excentricus,» at the Athens College in January 2002, the Cirque Eloize is coming back, this time to the Greek capital’s Big Top Theater with the production «Nomade.» A nomadic troupe The production’s director, Daniele Finzi Pasca, who also heads the Swiss theater troupe Teatro Sunil, notes that while on tour, the company has a commune-like structure, a nomadic existence which refers back to the old-time traveling circus. «This is the way of life we have chosen,» says Pasca in a press note. «The fact that we travel constantly and encounter new cultures and people is a blessing. It has also brought us closer. Our troupe has become our family and therefore the lines between our professional and private lives has become somewhat indistinct. On the other hand, in our line of work, you cannot operate in any other way because the success of our art is underpinned by close personal relationships based on friendship and trust.» Music is an integral part of all of Cirque Eloize’s productions, according to Pasca. «Music helps provoke intense feelings, it gives us the rhythm that allows us to accomplish very difficult acrobatics.» «Nomade» is a nighttime carnival filled with song, dance and acrobatic feats. Though squabbles sometimes erupt, peace and harmony eventually prevail in this exploration of the rituals of vagabond life; and there is no shortage of laughs either. «We emphasize the traditional tools of comedy,» says Pasca. «This means that we pay close attention to our facial expressions and movements, to create a humorous result.» A blend of the modern and the traditional, «Nomade» features circus artists from across the globe who perform heart-stopping numbers on the bascule, the banquine and the Russian bar. «We often see fear or anxiety on the audiences’ faces when we are executing a difficult acrobatic act… But we are always very well prepared through exhaustive rehearsals. «Traditional circus shows (with animals, clowns, etc.) appear outdated now, even though there is a nostalgia for them,» adds the director. «On the other hand, Cirque Eloize aims at creating a show that combines the classical values of the circus with modern elements. Our productions integrate a variety of art forms, such as poetry, theater, music and dance.» The stage design for «Nomade» draws on evocative natural materials. Aged wood, old-world fabrics and golden lighting combine to transport audiences into a festive, raucous and outlandish setting. Cirque Eloize at the Big Top Theater, Kifissou & Petrou Ralli, Rendi, tel 210.921.3310. Shows daily from Friday to January 3 except on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Ticket prices range from 35 euros (un-numbered seats) to 55 euros (top tier) for adults, and from 20-45 euros for students and children.