Contemporary collision

Collision (Casus Circus)

Metro Arts, New Benner Theatre

July 14 – 18

What happens when you mix three circus performers and three street performers? Than answer lies within experience of “Collision”, and the answer is absolutely appealing. As theatre-goers of this oft-called circus city, audience members familiar with pioneering contemporary circus company Casus Circus know to expect something special, however, the collaboration with urban street dance mover and shaker Mad Dance House, under the direction of Natano Fa’anana, takes it to all sorts of new levels.

Things start curiously, pre-show with a bunch of green grapes pedestaled amid a binge of blue lighting. The fruit becomes a playful motif that features from time to time, but doesn’t contribute much beyond its frivolity. So, it seems to be an authentic introduction to a show that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously and thus is infectious in its appeal… along with moves leading to ‘that’s amazing” type audience commentary.

Ché Pritchard’s choreography is impressive, in both its boldness and subtly. The first of a range of short scenes starts with the ensemble of performers Ela Bartilimo, Riley Colquist, Sam Evans, Ben Garcia, Amy Stuart and Wanida Serce lined across the stage, making small individual movements before morphing into one being to animal across the space. Immediately, there is a lot going on, with restrained integration vigorous Shiva sorts of traditional Indian hand gestures and shades of sitar sounds apparent in its initial soundtrack.

The dynamic soundtrack (Music Dessign by Natano Fa’anana, Jesse Scott, Che Pritchard and Andrew Haden) heightens things from there, including with some ‘Superstition’ and Salt-N-Pepa familiarity. Truly wonderful mashups and snippet hints at familiar beats vibrantly add to the transformative effect of what is occurring on stage. The sentiment is not all one-note though, with sound and lighting combining to create an early intimate, lyrical moment in the ‘rain’ before Wanida Serce (who we saw in Pink Matter’s “The Type” last year) explodes into a vigorous dance number. And her costume is sensational! Indeed, all of the costumes are striking, while still being simple and versatile.  

“Collision” is first class in its consideration of a distinct and exciting aesthetic to match the on-stage showcase of acrobatic and athletic prowess. There is no narrative focus to the show, however, abstract as it might be, there is not denying its energy in the celebration of the performers’ physical languages. The choreography demands athleticism and the performers all rise to its risk-taking challenges, putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment.

Acrobat Amy Stuart is sensational in her provision of a slick early highlight which sees her simultaneously balancing and twirling multiple hula hoops. She also shows formidable strength and focussed control in anchor of a later human tower of the three female performers. Circus acts are all executed with precision. Ela Bartilomo’s aerial rope work and her elevated hand balance routine, in which she intertwines as one with Riley Colquist is a mix of strength, skill and beauty. Colquest is an astonishing contortionist of extreme flexibility and enticing facial expressions that tease the audience during a balancing routine upon the tallest platform heels you are ever likely to see.

Dance numbers are also appealing in their whimsy. There is a dance off to Cornershop’s ‘Brimful of Asha’ while apparently awaiting a bus (#asyoudo), and Sam Evans gives us a brilliant robotic routine, especially in rapid rewind. At one point he also astonishingly routines with just his chest and torso as instruments. Even when miming a circus performance, he is thoroughly entertaining. Ben Garcia, meanwhile, amps up the audience even more with a late breakdance show of impressive power moves, which only adds to the infectious energy of the show’s experience.

Even as individuals spin out of line to a soundtrack of frenzied static, there is still a clear sense of the performers working together in what turns out to be a perfect partnership. “Collision” is a charismatic and thrilling showcase of our city’s contemporary circus and street dance talent. And best of all, you don’t need to know a lot about dance to enjoy it, know it is good or be proud of it as a Brisbane collaboration.

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