For Jeannot Painchaud, joining the traveling circus as a young man was a means to an end.
“I was very curious when I was young, and all I wanted to do was travel,” said Painchaud, who grew up in the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence just north of Nova Scotia.
“I was doing crazy stunts with my bike, and all kinds of crazy physical stuff on stage. I wanted to be an artist and see the world. My goal was to get off my little island and explore the world.”
For the next two weekends, the traveling circus that he started back in 1993, Cirque Eloize, will be at Proctors in Schenectady performing his latest creation, “iD,” A blend of circus arts, urban dance and various multimedia elements.
“iD” will open Friday night at 7:30 with two shows scheduled on Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Hugely successful since it started touring in 2010, “iD” drew rave reviews from the Boston Globe, the Toronto Star and the London Telegraph, the latter referring to it as “the ‘West Side Story’ of the 21st century.”
mixing art forms
“When I first started quite a while ago I always had a desire to mix art forms,” said Painchaud, who is based in Montreal. “Dance, theater, music. I was looking for all different ways of working from the heart. We’re challenging ourselves and challenging our identity, and what we came up with was a great mix of art.”
WHAT: A performance by Cirque Eloize
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Aug. 10
HOW MUCH: $50-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
He says the comparison to “West Side Story” is apt.
“We infuse the energy and edginess of urban dance into our acrobatic performances,” he said. “Now imagine two rival gangs, sharing a public place at the heart of the city, and seeking to express their identity and individuality, and you have ‘iD.’ ”
Music for the production was created by composers Jean-Phi Goncalves and Alex McMahon. There are 15 acrobatic performers involved in the show, which also includes illustrations and video projections by Robert Massicotte and Alexis Laurence, and additional artwork from Mourad Merzouki.
Painchaud is directing the show and serves as artistic director for Cirque Eloize, which he began 21 years ago with good friends Daniel Cyr and Claudette Morin. Eloize is a French term which means “flashes of heat lightning on the horizon.”
In 1984 he left his home in the islands and headed to Quebec City, where he saw a circus and was hooked. He attended the National Circus School of Montreal, and spent years as a street performer in Europe.
no more stunts
He doesn’t perform nearly as often as he used to, and certainly doesn’t do any of the hair-raising stunts he used to. In May, eight performers with the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus were injured due to equipment failure, and in June of 2013 a performer with Cirque du Soleil fell to her death during a Las Vegas show.
“There is risk, just like there is risk in any extreme sport,” said Painchaud.
“We’ve always been aware of that. When you go to the Olympics those gymnasts are at risk. But if you prepare and are well trained you should be fine. Accidents happen anywhere in life, even when you’re just crossing the street, but the way we train today and the way we’re mentally prepared, I don’t think anyone with our circus is especially at risk.”
Painchaud is planning to make the trip south to Schenectady for part of Cirque Eloize’s run at Proctors, but these days he prefers home life to traveling on the road.
“I still very much appreciate traveling and meeting people from other countries,” he said. “But my home is Montreal and I like it here. I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to, and most times when the company travels I stay here.”
“iD” is the 10th original production for Cirque Eloize, which last summer performed “Cirkopolis” at Proctors.
Also opening this weekend outdoors in the garden of Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany is a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” by Confetti Stage.
WHERE: Ten Broeck Mansion, 9 Ten Broeck Place, Albany
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 12
HOW Much: $15-$8
MORE INFO: 460-1167, www.confettistage.org
A special opening-night gala will be held Friday with an extra pre-show performance and a silent auction for $25. Liana D. Martino is directing the production, and Parker Cross plays Prospero. Also in the cast are Caroline Stuto and Jennifer Drummond.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Life and Arts