Next level circus 2.0

Humans 2.0 (Circa)

QPAC, The Playhouse

November 10 – 20

“Humans 2.0” begins with a flash of light as eleven bodies appear, moving in harmony around a round stage space framed by exposed lightbulbs, before their physical limits are pushed to extremes. Created by director Yaron Lifschitz, “Humans 2.0” is circus at its very best, an aesthetic amalgamation of acrobatics, sound and light that builds and expands upon Circa’s internationally acclaimed work “Humans”.

Precarious positioning sees perhaps more balancing close to the ground than in other Circa shows, but such segments are punctuated by aerial rope, silk and swing pieces and human towers that grow on stage to three and four people high and move about with impressive synchronisation. And as if the gravity-defying feats aren’t impressive enough, when human catapults launch performers across the stage, audience jars are appropriately agape.

All members of the ensemble of performers (Jon Bonaventura, Holly-Rose Boyer, Nathan Boyle, Alice Muntz, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Gerramy Marsden, Kathryn O’Keefe, Paul L’Keefe, Lachlan Sukroo, Billie Wilson-Coffey, and Ashley Youren) are incredibly talented as they leap and are caught by each other and tower about the place in realisation of the bold choreography. They also show immense respect to the stillness the exists as part of movement, which brings an essential intimacy to the show’s sensibility. Expressive contemporary dance is embedded within circus stunts and there is a slow motion focus on intentions from performers when at the front of the stage, connecting them more with the audience that would otherwise be possible.

When Paul Jackson’s dramatic lighting pulses red along with composer Ori Lichtik’s original techno-type music, things become even more dynamic. Like the floor is lava and their bones are jelly, the performers’ infectious dance scene soon morphs into them contorting themselves almost inside out, illustrating the immense physical strength required to hold their bodies tight while being twisted about with limbs suspended between four other performers.

This second in in the company’s Humans series, is still very much a love letter to our species, with new skills and sequences serving only to refresh and enhance its symphony of humanness. But “Humans 2.0” is also powerfully poetic in its exploration of what circus can be in all of its complexities, with the company continuing to reinvent the genre’s possibilities. Audiences see a performer jump from standing on another’s shoulders to their head in one move, and another jump from torso to torso of performer bodies on the ground until one arches up to a bridge with him still in place. Indeed, there are many astonishing moments that lead to spontaneous applause, such as when a performer is held aloft only by his face. Transitions are smooth and the energy doesn’t ever drop, despite the program being one of so many short and sharp movements.

At the core of it all is the idea of supportive strength from unity, the connectedness that unites humanity and the trust that enables reliance upon others. Awareness of one’s self and others is vital to success in the work and, as such, brings the thematic depth that serves as Circa’s signature style, in combination with the vivid harmony of the synchronicity of movement on stage. The commanding dexterity from the company’s disciplined performers is simply remarkable, resulting in more open-mouthed audience reactions with every show.

Photos c/o – David Kelly