There are so many great contemporary circus companies all across the world. As a professional performer, inspirations for developing new circus acts can come from anywhere or anything (books, arts, theatre, dance, nature, politics, social issues, Christmas and summer seasons and many different themes). As a circus artiste I have been lucky enough to see some Cirque du Soleil shows. They are a Canadian circus entertainment company from Montreal and produce the largest circus shows in world. These are so awe-inspiring and use high class circus performers woven into an intriguing and elaborate storyline and set with exquisite costumes and make up. Although I enjoy being transported into another world. I get other inspirations from seeing smaller circus companies such as Circus Oz, Giffords Circus, No Fit State Circus and Circus Ronaldo, as theirs shows are more intimate, relatable and tangible. They usually have a good storyline or narrative woven into circus, acrobatics and aerial acts. Often the shows highlight themes including seasonal, social or cultural ideals/issues.
Contemporary Circus has evolved. Companies like De La Guada from Argentina were ground breaking, they blurred the boundaries of circus, theatre and dance and created a show which came to the Roundhouse in Camden 1999. Their show was amazing, it was a unique fusion of circus tricks, acrobatic physical theatre and twisted comedy. They transported spectators into a new reality. This show created by the group of performers was electrifying and otherworldly but it also felt tangible and you were encouraged to be a part of the whole experience. Some audience members were wisked skywards by the aerial dancers on trapezes and other simply drenched in water or pulled into a dance and song. We were left amazed by the extraordinary experience which can be described as abrasive, sensual and trippy, this show certainly broke all perceptions of traditional conventional circus and theatre. This show really inspired me during my time training at The Circus Space.
In the late 1980’s and early 90’s I was aware of a group called Archaos from France. They hit the UK by storm and challenged the tradition of circus as we knew it with shows that were noisy, smelly and confrontational. Their shows were created by individuals that were often seen as anarchists and people you would want to avoid in society, let alone pay money to see one of their shows. They certainly changed the traditional circus ideals and their shows were raw edgy and exciting and included explosions, juggling chainsaws and aerial musicians.