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Musical acrobats go for Baroque in daring collaboration

Canberra International Music Festival 30 April 2019

Australian Brandenburg and Circa performers.

It’s daring, it’s breathtaking, and it’s unexpected.

The third collaboration between the acrobats of Circa and the musicians of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra is an unmissable, award-winning combination. And the world premiere of their new show, English Baroque, is about to happen right here, on May 2,  as part of the Canberra International Music Festival.

As acrobats spin, and leap, and bend their amazing bodies round the stage, against magical moonlight settings of “the Court”, “the Bedroom”, “the Chapel” and “the Fairground”, the musicians play under the leadership of Paul Dyer, and somehow, the two art forms complement each other to create a sense of wonder that any of this is possible at all.

Circa is run by Yaron Lifschitz, an Australian director most notable for his involvement in the circus arts. He has directed over 60 productions including mainstage theatre, physical theatre, large-scale events and opera. His work has been seen in 32 countries, across six continents by over 500,000 people. But his first love is contemporary circus.

He told Fringe Arts last year that “in a way, circus is the contemporary, real-time, real Avengers, Marvel comic version of theatre—not in its lightness or playfulness necessarily, but in the fact that it features people, special people, superheroes, people doing things that aren’t normal—and yet they are normal people. I mean, a well-trained monkey can do what a circus artist does better—they’re faster, stronger, fly higher, there’s nothing special about that, but when a human does it, that makes it extraordinary.”

Yaron looks for young, tough artists who have an intensity about them, a dark secret if you like, that makes them compelling to watch. And Circa are indeed compelling – their previous shows in Canberra, where they have performed without Brandenburg, have been sellouts.

Jake Silvestro is one of Circa’s current acrobats. He grew up in Canberra and went to the ANU, and honed his skills at the Warehouse Circus, combining with other young artists in a mentoring program that led to him founding Poncho Circus. Poncho Circus was an independent circus that toured Canberra and the surrounding region until 2017 and focused on storytelling through movement. He has also toured with Circus Oz, Company 2 and Casus Circus, and is delighted to be returning to Canberra to perform with Circa for the first time in this city.

Canberran and acrobat Jake Silvestro is performing in Circa.

“There will be surprises for people who know Circa – there will be quite a lot of apparatus, including swinging trapezes, and a cyr wheel which I will be spinning in – its looks like a spinning Vitruvian man and it’s the first time it’s been used in circa stage production, but anyone who has seen Poncho Circus will recognise it. We will also have an artist who is a high-level manipulator, a Diabolo act, who will knock your socks off!”

Accompanying the musicians is renowned singer Jane Sheldon, an edgy soprano with a stunning voice of ‘pristine beauty’ who has moved back to Sydney after living in New York. She developed a fan club with cult status following recording a wordless aria from Elena Kats Chernin’s Wild Swans, used by the ABC’s Philip Adams as a theme tune to his program, and also by the British Lloyds Bank who created a quirky ad that became one of Britain’s top three most loved advertisements.

Jane Sheldon. Photo: Anthony Browell.

She’ll be singing everything from everyone’s favourite Scarborough Fair – to arias from Purcell and Handel – while the acrobats highlight the musical experience.

Jake Silvestro is enthusiastic about English Baroque. “I think Canberra has a vibrant and connected arts community and this show combines two high art forms, the best contemporary circus with one of Australia’s best orchestras: the two performing together will be electric. I would say to Canberrans – don’t miss it, you won’t have seen anything like this before!”

English Baroque with Circa
Thursday, May 2, 2019
7:30 pm – 9 pm
Llewellyn Hall
Tickets: www.cimf.org.au


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