New-age circus finds‘Ola Kala’ in the sky

When I’m up in midair I feel free and strong. I am not a bird, I’m a man and I can’t stay up in the sky for long,» said Stephane, one of the members of Les Arts Sauts at a press conference earlier this week. «What keeps me going is the trust I have in my friends; the ones who help me when I’m up there.» Three years after «Kayassine,» Les Arts Sauts returns to Athens with «Ola Kala,» a sensational new production. At the Military Park in Goudi, performances run to March 13, with daily shows except Mondays and Tuesdays. A ballet in the sky, a postmodern circus troupe, Les Arts Sauts is a globetrotting ensemble which was established in 1993. At Goudi, 15 acrobats, four musicians and a soprano all find their position under an even-higher-than-before, impressive 28-meter dome. Why is this show even more spectacular than the last? One of the reasons is that the production now takes place on four, instead of two, levels. As for the show’s name, «Ola Kala,» it is indeed Greek-inspired. It has to do with the fact when the dome was destroyed by heavy winds recently, the company also found itself on the verge of collapse. That’s when a group of Greek friends encouraged them not to give up. Instead, with the aid of many of their friends, they managed to develop a new production. A collective Les Arts Sauts is all about team spirit: not just when the acrobats are dancing in the sky but in daily traveling life too. This is where people meet and fall in love, get married and raise their children on the road – teachers included. As soon as a new destination is reached, the company sets up a temporary new home, with a restaurant, a school and a dressing-room area. Whatever their position on the team, all of the troupe’s members have the same duties and rights; sometimes they take on multiple tasks and a trapeze artist turns into a truckdriver. When it comes to getting paid, each person receives the same amount as the next, and when it comes to decision-making, everybody has to agree. Even a slight objection may put an end to a new idea. Traveling the world, the artists come into contact with different cultures and, often, techniques. In Laos, for instance, one of their most popular destinations, they have worked closely with local artists and ended up developing a novel trapeze act. They also like to get off the beaten track and travel to remote destinations where box-office acts are a rarity and where they perform for free. New-age circus Following in the tradition of companies such as Cirque Eloize and Cirque du Soleil, Les Arts Sauts takes a fresh stance toward the world of the circus: sensational choreographies, music and song. Far away from the taming of wild animals, Les Arts Sauts offers trapeze artists in their purest form, where along with the musicians and the singer, the troupe creates an ethereal atmosphere. As for the public, all they have to do is lie back in their deck chairs and enjoy the show. Fear of vertigo, anyone? Members of Les Arts Sauts say that while a number of visitors are initially lured by the idea of serious acrobatics, they end up discovering the music. In the case of «Ola Kala,» the music develops into an increasingly electronic sound, coupled with a rock mood interpreted by the violin and the cello. Once again joining the troupe is the powerful voice of Pascale Valenta. The costumes are also given a new, baroque spin, aided by French stylist Pauline Collin. While most trapeze acts last from five to 10 minutes, Les Arts Sauts artists perform for about 75 minutes. Precision is key and that is why they prefer to set up their midair stage on their own. In the end, the troupe’s most precious possession is the trust they have in each other. The Les Arts Sauts performances in Athens are under the auspices of the Technopolis cultural complex of the Municipality of Athens. Les Arts Sauts is performing at the Military Park in Goudi. Tel. 210.921.3310.

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