A stylistic connection was obvious between Circus Remix and Grande (the first show I reviewed in this blog). Both shows were divided into multiple sections, had a strong focus on individual stunning tricks, and utilized inventive wordplay. And this would make sense considering the creators of these shows at one point had a company together called Ivan Mosjoukine. Though the members of this company now perform separate shows, their creative origins are still fully apparent in their new work. Maroussia Diaz Verbèke, the creator of Circus Remix, takes the wordplay a step further though. She has created her own term, "Circographe," to define her role in the circus. Related to dramaturgy, though not entirely similar, circographie is the creation of text that is specific to circus. This use of text was ubiquitous in the show, from the opening scene where Verbèke holds a series of signs explaining she will use words and movement to share her inner thoughts with the audience to the nearly nonstop projections of stream of consciousness writing. The projected words were accompanied by their verbal recitation, a jumble of sentence fragments Verbèke had collected from numerous interviews and pieced together to explain her own thoughts during the show. The show had many moments of stunning acrobatics, most notable a walk on the ceiling, dangling upside down by her feet as she crossed a horizontal ladder. There were also many moments of failure and accepting the limits of human physicality. At one point Verbèke circled the room showing off an antique circus poster of a woman diving from a high board to land in a handstand on a chair below. The spectators groaned and covered their eyes. After already witnessing several daredevil acts that seemed impossible, this seemed like her insane denouement. But it wasn't. Verbèke laughed, tossed the poster to the side, and moved on to the next, more subdued, part of the show.
One of the reasons I appreciate French contemporary circus so deeply is that they are able to tell an incredibly evocative story through simple means. The Académie Fratellini's Apéro Cirque series is a reoccurring event to present work from the school's apprentice program. Held in the school's smaller chapieteau with a three-quarter round stage and no set, the third year apprentices shared the story of a young boy named Mehdi. Mehdi likes to wear lipstick, and throughout the show he battles with his own confusion of identity as well as ostracism by his peers. Solo acts evoked various childhood emotions, while ensemble pieces showed the challenge of interacting with one's peers when not conforming to the normal social expectations. The poetic nature of the text was reflected in the apprentices' movements, from the opening scene of Mehdi's birth to the final scene in which each apprentice carried a piece of a Mehdi puppet-- holding an item of clothing that when put together showed the fragments that compose a young child, but not the child who occupied them. The audience is left with a final image of the tactile objects we use to represent identity, but they are hollow constructions, Mehdi's true image is left to our imagination.