Circolumbia returns to the Underbelly Circus Hub, bringing its high-octane cast of singing, dancing circus artists with it. The performers, graduates of the Circo Para Todos school for Colombia’s disadvantaged youth, have an electric stage presence and a wide set of skills demonstrated in this exciting hour of classic circus acts.
The sixteen strong cast rushes the stage to a thumping baseline and fantastic live voices
The best moments of Circolumbia (performing the same show as last year’s Acéléré under the new name) are positively electric. The sixteen strong cast rushes the stage to a thumping baseline and the fantastic live voices of the two singers and one rapper in the cast (who also participate in the circus acts and perform in Spanish and some English). They cover transitions and set-ups with fantastically choreographed contemporary dance that keeps the energy in the room up and the audience glued to the stage. It rarely if ever gets too much or distracts from the ‘main attraction’. A brilliant example was a mid-show seesaw acrobatics act, where the two performers on the seesaw were surrounded by their dancing castmates who filled in gaps, spotted their co-stars, and offered them a little respite while the audience was otherwise engaged.
Other standout acts included some of the faster paced floor routines, and a stunning solo acrobatics routine on a swing. Unfortunately, the pace often dropped below the frenetic energy that made the show work so well, especially at the beginning. Some acts (notably an otherwise clever triple ropes routine) felt like they were half circus moments and half waiting for the next circus moment to occur. This can be managed well, but the pace set by the music disallowed it and the audience, encouraged to cheer and clap at the drop of a hat, started to lag. For some acts, the slower pacing was clearly a deliberate choice unfortunately not backed up by stellar acting or sufficient gravitas, but in some, it felt like there would have been no issue if the company utilised its signature style of layering in a musical performance. This was particularly true of the otherwise stunning performance of an acrobat performing on a ring balanced on the forehead of one of her co-performers.
It was in these slower moments that the relatively minor sins of shaky landings or missed tricks and a general tendency to milk the audience for applause at every opportunity came to the fore and dampened the experience significantly. Despite the off-putting experience of sometimes feeling expected to clap more than I felt compelled to, there were at least as many moments of voluntary and spontaneous cheering and celebrating. Ultimately, Circolumbia is a great pick for traditional circus acts infused with youthful energy and some fantastic Latin music.