Australian Circus Acts Company “CIrca” is a Breathtaking, Sexy Discovery at Jacob’s Pillow

It’s heart and soul is dance. Yet when you watch them perform, the Australian circus arts company Circa is also about gymnastics and visual feats of derring-do. Circa puts a new artistic stamp on the whole movement vocabulary. Their eponymous evening-length work CIRCA is the sort of performance that makes you gasp and catch your breath. It is a refreshingly new and different artistic compilation that combines physical theatre, contemporary choreography, aerial dance, and astounding feats of strength and flexibility.

No other company will create the kind of buzz that gets people’s attention, and it has been scheduled for the 80th Anniversary opening of the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow on June 20, and will play to June 24th.

Acro-Ballet, Up Close

Claudia La Rocco of the NY Times called it a “veritable dance explosion” but I think Lyn Gardner of London’s Guardian nailed it as “something extraordinary. It’s breathtaking, beautiful and sexy…But Circa is also astonishingly moving, its story of human co-operation and frailty emerging through an acro-ballet.”

“Pillow audiences will have a sneak preview of the astonishing performers of Circa at our 80th Anniversary Gala. I’m sure they will be hooked,” comments Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob’s Pillow. “This company merges emotion, wit and humor, and the exquisite beauty of the human body in a completely unique way. Not to mention that this performance is in our intimate Doris Duke Theatre, so audiences will have an up close view of the action.”

Unique Style and Approach

Circa’s performance style is a signature combination of highly connected acrobatic sequences; intricate, fast-paced tumbling scenes; and hauntingly beautiful contemporary movement. CIRCA, a work for seven performers, draws on material from some of Circa’s most acclaimed works including The Space Between, by the light of stars that are no longer…, and FURIOSO, which were all created by Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz in collaboration with the company. The varied score includes music by Leonard Cohen, Cake, Jacques Brel, Venetian Snares, and others.

Lifschitz comments: “We are all looking for some way to make our work more powerful. In the actuality of circus, in acrobatics, there is immediacy, a danger and a skill that is extraordinary. Many people want to tap into this and use its power….It is Circa’s basic script. Rather than add circus to choreography, we discover choreographic possibilities inside circus.”

About the Company

From Brisbane, Australia, Circa has toured to 22 countries across five continents to critical acclaim. The company members come from diverse backgrounds, with specialties ranging from aerial work to contortion to hoop diving. Roslyn Sulcas of The New York Times has praised Circa for its “astonishing physical mastery” and “a poetic resonance that brings these performances closer to dance than to the big top.”

Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz is a graduate of the University of New South Wales, University of Queensland and National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) where he was the youngest director ever accepted into its prestigious graduate directors course. Since graduating, Lifschitz has directed over 60 productions including large-scale events, opera, theatre, physical theatre and circus. He was founding Artistic Director of the Australian Museum’s Theatre Unit, Head Tutor in Directing at Australian Theatre for Young People and has been a regular guest tutor in directing at NIDA since 1995.

Master Class, Pillow Talk Events

On Sunday, June 17, members of Circa will lead a Master Class for intermediate/advanced dancers ages 16 and older. Pre-registration is required; for more information on the Master Class, call 413.243.9919.

On Saturday, June 23 at 4pm, Circa’s Associate Director Darcy Grant will discuss how the company translates circus for the concert stage in a free PillowTalk titled Where Dance and Circus Meet.

Performance and Ticket Information

Doris Duke Theatre
Wednesday, June 20 through Saturday, June 23 at 8:15pm
Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24 at 2:15pm

· Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence are offered on the Doris Duke Theatre porch 30 minutes before every performance. A Post-Show Talk with the artists will take place onstage on Thursday, June 21.

· Tickets $22-38. $10 Youth Tickets, sponsored by ALEX®, available for the Friday 8:15pm and Saturday 2:15pm performances. Tickets are now on sale online at, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.

· Festival Box Office hours: Monday and Tuesday, 10am-6pm, Wednesday through Saturday 10am-8pm, and Sunday 12pm-5pm.

Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow grounds and theaters are handicapped accessible.

In the Ted Shawn Theatre 20-24

Mimulus Dance Company
Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, June 20 through Saturday, June 23, 8pm
Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24, 2pm

Mimulus blends Brazilian social dance with contemporary choreography and imaginative visual design, under the artistic direction of Jomar Mesquita. The company made its U.S. debut at Jacob’s Pillow in 2007, prompting Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times to write “Mesquita and his Mimulus dance company ought to be bottled and sold as elixir.” Mimulus opens the 80th Anniversary Festival with the U.S. premiere of Por Um Fio (By a Thread). Por Um Fio is an energetic multimedia tribute to Arthur Bispo do Rosário, an outsider artist who became well known in the contemporary visual art world after his death in 1989. Bispo do Rosário spent much of his life in a Brazilian asylum devoid of social contact, where he created art by embroidering and transforming found objects such as garments, sheets, sashes, and other materials. Mesquita uses the artist’s work and life as inspiration to play with light and shadow, control and disorder, madness and memory while dancers interact with an ingenious graffiti-adorned set of fabric, lights, wire, and thread. The dancers’ exchanges with one another are spectacular, as Mesquita and his company display their mastery of inventive partnering, spins, and lifts. Tickets $39-64, available at and via phone 413.243.0745.

Free Events for June 20-24

Free Inside/Out Performance: Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima

Wednesday, June 20, 6:15pm
Based in Honolulu, under the direction of kumu hula Vicky and Jeff Takamine, Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima brings together their students from Honolulu, New York City, and Vancouver, Washington to present oli (chant), hula kahiko (ancient Hawaiian dance), and hula ‘auana (modern Hawaiian dance), with guest musicians on kī ho’alu (slack key guitar) and slide steel guitar. The company performs new works based on traditional dances originally composed for Lili’uokalani, the last Queen of Hawai’i, as well as repertoire of sacred drum dances, works dedicated to the fire goddess, and songs from the 1920s. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: Naomi Goldberg Haas/Dances For A Variable Population

Thursday, June 21, 6:15pm
Featuring an audience participation finale, the interactive work FANFARE is performed by dancers ranging in age from 24-83. Set to Michael Nyman’s brass compositions, FANFARE captures the diversity and energy of the multigenerational performers. The work was originally presented as a site-specific piece created and timed for the arrival and departure of the ferries at the Whitehall Terminal for Staten Island. FREE

Free PillowTalk: From Stage to Studio

Friday, June 22, 5pm
Legendary former principal ballerinas Cynthia Harvey and Anna-Marie Holmes reflect on their performing careers and how they transmit their experience to a new generation of dancers in the classroom. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: Bill Evans Dance Company

Friday, June 22, 6:15pm
Founded in 1975 and well-known for tap dances, here the Bill Evans Dance Company presents two contemporary works that showcase Evans’s interest in full-bodied, dynamic movement. Nature Unfolding, a poignant work inspired by Evans’s time in New Mexico, is performed by dancers in costumes modeled after the southwestern sunset. Craps, originally made in collaboration with the lauded jazz pianist also named Bill Evans, brings together music and movement. Evans was on faculty at The School at Jacob’s Pillow in 1973, when his piece Three Bach Dances was performed by Cynthia Gregory and other members of American Ballet Theatre in the Ted Shawn Theatre. FREE

Free PillowTalk: Where Dance and Circus Meet

Saturday, June 23, 4pm
The Associate Director of Circa, Darcy Grant, explains how the company (performing in the Doris Duke Theatre June 20-24) incorporates improvisation, multi-media, and startlingly-imagined circus skills to establish a new frontier in circus arts for the concert stage. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: The School at Jacob’s Pillow – Ballet Program

Saturday, June 23, 6:15pm
To conclude their study in the Ballet Program, dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow present classical ballet variations coached by Program Director Anna-Marie Holmes and the incomparable ballerina Cynthia Harvey, plus a new work by lauded British choreographer Michael Corder. FREE

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