Cirque Eloize in ‘iD’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 2 p.m. today, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10
HOW MUCH: $20 to $50
MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org
Cirque Eloize is back at Proctors this summer, and just like last August, the troupe of Canadian circus artists and dancers are captivating audience with its “iD,” a daring showcase of physical control and strength artfully framed in a gritty urban setting.
Onstage at Schenectady’s premier theater through next weekend, the spectacle isn’t perfect — the cast bungled the juggling — but the overall effect is powerful. Its punch is delivered by a cast of 15 engaging specialty artists including a trail biker (Thibaut Phillipe), a Chinese pole walker (Conor Neall) and a contortionist (Emi Vauthey), along with a crew of other talented gymnasts and acrobats.
The troupe liberally sprinkles among its tricks bursts of break-dancing that further stirs the gasping audience. All this is set to the sights and sounds of a city. Sirens and horns blare against ever-changing backdrops of skyscrapers, graffiti-painted alleyways and residential stoops.
The work, the brainchild of artistic director Jeannot Painchaud, begins with the colorful parade of characters striding across the stage. The movement then slows, the stage darkens and a couple (Justine Methe-Crozat and Raul Domingos Veiga) surfaces among the dispersing crowd. They enter into a combative, competitive duet that includes Methe-Crozat doing handstands on Veiga’s upraised arms. He tosses her into the air, catching her, but in a way that speaks of a deep-seated grudge.
The others return in what looks like a scene out of “West Side Story,” with gangs on each side of the stage throwing out menacing gestures. A calm overcomes the pack as Neall rises up a pole. Climbing easily with his hands and feet, he holds his body upright and out from the mast as if he’s a flag. Using his obviously incredible core strength, Neall spins up and down the staff, only stopping to strike other bold poses.
There are many highlights in “iD.” Among them is Phillipe’s command over his bicycle. Bouncing around on the back tire, he hops up stairs and over people. At one point, he springs over a volunteer from the audience. At another, he pedals his two-wheeler up and down the theater aisles.
Other high points include Jeremy St. Jean balancing on a stack of chairs and Vauthey collaborating with inline skater Jon Larrucea in a beautifully smooth pas de deux in which she is rising and tumbling down suspended silks.
The finale is riotous, beginning with what looks like a man falling from the top of a building. But as he lands, he rebounds. What ensues is a bouncing bonanza with the men of the cast falling backwards and flipping from the set’s rooftops and windows, only to boomerang back to the safety with hardly a hair out of place. As that is happening, a trio of break-dancers (Baptiste Montassier, Forty Nguyen and Kone Thong Vongpraseuth) are on the floor, bending the musical beat with a smile.
A thunderous crash erupts, the stage goes dark and the audience is screaming and on its feet, offering up well-deserved appreciation for these thoroughly entertaining Cirque Eloize.