Circus Comes to Town

The first ever Chicago Contemporary Circus was held a couple of weekends ago, and we attended 2 evenings of performances.

Getting to the theater the first evening, a Friday, was a challenge. It was raining heavily out. The rain, and the mountains of ice piled on the sidewalk that started to melt created massive floods along the street corners. While we successfully avoided slipping on the black ice, we weren’t so lucky with the grey puddles of icy slush disguised as solid ground. As a result, my shoes and jeans were completely soaked by the time we got to the theatre.

That put me in a right mood.

But happily, nothing that some circus couldn’t fix!

Friday was a double feature. First up was a whimsical acrobatic performance by Finnish artist, Ilona Jantti, who performed a roughly 15 minute fantastical piece entitled Muualla/Elsewhere. Playing with animation and shadows, she mimics the movements of the cute animated characters against a huge screen, walks up imaginary steps on a rope, and flits about from dreamscape to dreamscape. It was just utterly surreal but so gorgeous to watch.

The second act was by New Mexico acrobatic duo Ricohet, entitled Smoke and Mirrors. It was a lot more serious. The Chicago Reader describes the performance as “a metaphor for workplace scheming and the workweek grind; even a regular office chair becomes a contraption that can bind or cage. Laura Stokes is angular and dramatic and far from gentle with her body; she binds her ankles and knots them onto her shoulders from behind. She and her partner, Cohdi Harrell, arc past each other with the cleanness of filaments in a whisk.”

On Saturday, we returned for Flip FabriQue’s Attrape Moi (“Catch Me”), a 6-person troupe from Quebec that gave perhaps the best, most fun, and seamless circus show we’ve ever seen. The energy they brought was infectious – the filled-up house of circus fans (a whole bunch of the trapeze folks were in attendance hehe) yelled and laughed ourselves hoarse by the end of the 75 minute performance that included trampolining (always fun to watch!); hula hooping (she owned those hoops); aerial straps (it was so incredibly moving and beautiful); acrobatics on balls, balance beams and poles; juggling; and the best “clowning” we’ve seen. It was so much fun!


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