This circus, dance and music show accepts no boundaries. Billed as an imaginary shamanic ritual, it opens to the sound of a drum, and a brutal, primitive folk dance. But these acrobats (one girl and four men) are not confined to being human, they take on shamanic animal forms, on all fours, with wolf skull faces, they fight, snarl, bark and invade the audience. They throw each other into the air, performing high somersaults and backward flips just below the canopy roof. The animals fly and swim; they behave as lone wolves, or wild packs, or a pack ruled by a magus. These dramas and transformations are accompanied by the sound of two cellists and a singer performing baroque music across a range of European languages (Armenian, English, German, Italian).
Fills you with the joy at what the human body can do and be
The music performances are key to the overall experience, and, following the themes of transformation, the musicians are not just musicians. One of the cellists continues to play without a false note, as she is lifted one acrobat on top of another high into the air. The singer, Blandine Coulon takes on simultaneous roles as actor, dancer, acrobat; all without a single quiver in her voice.
As the show progresses, spectators are literally lifted into the experience, as acrobatics move them across the circle, onlookers become involved in a scene with a puppet, (manipulated by the acrobat Chloé Chevallier); and individuals are brought into the performance circle for the finale.
Describing a show as immersive is common currency, yet this Belgian company, T1J, creates a visceral experience that is truly worthy of the word. They engage the audiences’ primitive emotions, including the thrill of different types of fear; surprised gasps at the danger of the acrobatics, the sense of invasion as the human animals prowl among the crowd, tense anticipation at the sound of the heavy axe dragged around the circle next to the toes of the front row, the ancient reflex as a snarling animal passes by. (For those with children, be aware of the 12+ guideline.)
This stunning combination of singing, acrobatics, dance, drama and cello playing fills you with the joy at what the human body can do and be. The audience gave a standing ovation.