Audience members in Bass Concert Hall held their breath Saturday night as performers engaged in feats of strength and complicated routines, tossing each other far into the air, performing handstands on single stacks of bricks and forming three person human towers.
The show, put on by one of the three companies that make up the Australian acrobatic troupe, was described as a contemporary circus. A combination of acrobatic skill and showmanship, the show only occasionally featured a few minimalist props, such as hula hoops and rings, and usually left performers alone on the stage in only slacks or leotards. For audience members, the tension grew as a performer entangled himself in a rope dangling over the stage, gaining height, as there was no one to catch him. Audience members also gasped as a woman stood on a man’s stomach in sparkling red heels, while the man held himself up on his legs and arms.
Tour manager and director Diane Stern said the C!RCA’s three companies put on a combined 400 shows each year, pausing after six to eight months to develop a new show for next year and take a short break. The show C!RCA displayed in Austin was an amalgamation of three previous performances, Stern said.
“All of these shows are fantastic in their own light but we can kind of put them together into their own show,” Stern said. “[We] want to produce work that moves the heart, the mind and the soul.”
Stern lamented contemporary circus is not as well-known as an art form in the U.S. as it is in Europe, but said she hoped audience members would appreciate the performance.
“I think one of the things that C!RCA does really well is we really try to say: here are seven people that are going to do some incredible things with their bodies,” Stern said. “We want you to see their humanity.”
Performers did more than stunts during the show, sometimes engaging in funny scenes showing playful personalities.
Biology senior Barry Ordoyne, who attended the show, said he did not think he understood all of the show but liked it for the same reason he likes other performing arts.
“I like seeing the human quality,” Ordoyne said. “[You see something and are like], ‘oh. That’s very powerful.’”
Autumn Wier, who attended the show to fulfill a requirement for her class at Austin Community College, said she also liked it, even though she did not know what to expect.
“It was different,” Wier said. “It was exciting and it was neat.”