Circa! All The Stunts, None Of The Fanfare

By Jared Bowen

March 1, 2012

Discuss on "Greater Boston," and see more photos of the Circa ensemble.

BOSTON — The circus is in town tonight—although one you’re likely not accustomed to. Australian group Circa has a new definition for circus, and it’s jaw-dropping.
Circa is an Australian performance troupe in town this week performing Circa’s Circa, a program of highlights from the group’s 30-year history.
Acrobat Emma McGovern explained that this isn’t your regular Barnum & Bailey act.
“It’s got theater sort of aspects and contemporary dance aspects and a bit of everything really that anyone (yeah) of us that has skills or knowledge brings into the company,” she said.
McGovern and her colleague, Jarred Dewey, define their performance as a modern circus—stripped bare of all flourishes and distractions but the body.
“Skill wise, it’s about how we interact as performers with each other and the performance element is really authentic and not a character or narrative based. So it’s very fresh and exciting,” said Dewey.
“We use improvisation which isn’t done a lot in acrobatics,” added McGovern
It’s the Presenter Celebrity Series that has brought Circa here for its Boston debut. Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director of Celebrity Series, says the group is preeminent in a strong modern Australian tradition of developing circus groups.
“It’s personality based,” he said. “It’s a real connection to the audience, not at all fearful of using humor in their work and using their bodies in to create that humor and comedy. But also to create great beauty.”
When it’s not excruciating. “Heels” is a Circa staple performance—a man being manipulated by a woman in stilettos, and in ways that don’t seem physically possible. By the way, the stilettos are real.
“It’s definitely not comfortable,” said Dewey.
“We like to keep things real in our work, and yeah, it’s hard to disguise the realness,” said McGovern.
That much is clear—and deliciously compelling.

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