New Australian circus show Circa expresses raw emotion through the powerful movements of seven lithe, agile and muscled bodies in a captivating fusion of dance and acrobatics.

Circa hails from Brisbane but its cast is drawn from performance institutions across Australia such as the National Institute of Circus Arts and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.

They have honed their prowess in three previous shows, which have been combined to create Circa.

Critical acclaim

Having been all over Australia, Circa is now blazing through Europe, leaving critics and audiences awestruck and leaking superlatives. The performers’ combinations were described as “oriental calligraphy” by one critic.

Another said that the show was: “Knee tremblingly sexy, beautiful and moving.”
Its success at the Edinburgh Fringe last year has left artistic director Yaron Lifschitz, a 39-year-old Aussie who was born in South Africa, understandably chuffed.

He describes the opportunity for his small outfit to perform at the Barbican next week as “spine tingling” and “terrifying”.

“It’s a very live, challenging medium and you can never take it for granted,” he adds.

“And that’s part of the terror of it.”

Australian circus talent

Another thing the critics agree on is that Circa is hard to classify. It’s one of a steady stream of imaginative, contemporary productions which Australia seems to incubate.

Along with other global contemporary acts, it has muscled its way into the mainstream, leaving the conventional big top for dust and offering an alternative to the over-stylised art of Cirque du Soleil.

“There is plenty of room for every type of circus as long as it’s done well,”he says.

“But I think circus is cluttered with lycra and smoke machines. We wanted to see what it was like when you stripped all of that back.”

Sex appeal

“These bodies are doing extraordinary things. It’s a very refined performance which taps into the fragile, fraught nature of being human,” Lifschitz says.

The performers move from highly connected acrobatic and tumbling sequences to fast-paced moments of great intricacy where precision and timing are everything.

“It is the only place I can think of where real circus skills talk emotionally to an audience. Plus, it’s a little bit sexy and kinky, which we all are,” Lifschitz laughs.

Indeed, Circa does have its risqué moments. Look out for the woman treading over a male body in blood-red stilettos – a sequence that’s been designed to make you wince.

Men, you have been warned.

» Circa, Barbican, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS  Barbican (020 7638 8891). Mar 9-14. £10-£26

Aussies at CircusFest

One of the highlights of the upcoming CircusFest, a five-week festival at The Roundhouse in Camden (Apr 7-May 16) will be Australian avant-garde circus company Acrobat, which will be performing a UK debut of their politically questioning work Propaganda  on Thursday, May 13.

See for more details.

Words: Rebecca Kent