By Sarah Stortz
Wearing skintight movement apparel and strikingly pale makeup, the members of Circa rely solely on working with each others’ bodies to create the visualization of a circus visit.
Taking its unique style influenced by contemporary circus, the acrobats will head to Hancher to perform two distinct acts Saturday at 2 p.m. and April 25 at 7:30 p.m.
According to its website, Circa is described as one of the world’s leading performance companies. Based in Brisbane, Australia, the company of circus artists has traveled to 39 countries to perform for multinational audiences since its beginnings in 2004.
Its first Hancher performance, Carnival of the Animals, will be a multimedia reimagining of composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s suite of the same name, using a more a traditional circus aesthetic and aiming for all ages.
Its second performance, Opus, will feature 14 acrobatics and the Debussy String Quartet playing the music of composer Dmitri Shostakovich, possessing a much more grand and epic tone.
The ensemble’s visit to Hancher is supported by the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Victoria Hutter, the assistant director of public affairs for media relations at the National Endowment for the Arts, said there’s a citizens’ panel that reviews submitted application by grant hopefuls wishing for support.
“It’s a competition for funding that all of grantees go through,” Hutter said. “The criteria for judging are artistic excellence and artistic merit.”
Similarly, the Iowa Arts Council’s citizen review panel approved a $10,000 Arts Project grant for the program.
The panel approved funding because of the program’s several goals, including fostering a cultural exchange between Australians and Iowa residents, developing a deeper understanding of the contemporary circus, and presenting free workshops to a variety of constituents.
“Hancher has a successful record in presenting high-quality performances as well as engaging the community through residencies,” Iowa Arts Council Administrator Matthew Harris wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “The Circa program will encourage and develop appreciation for contemporary circus arts and classical music, and our citizen review panel appreciated how the university campus and wider community, including K-12 students, can engage with the programming.”
Hancher Education Manager Micah Ariel James was responsible for providing an in-town residency for the Circa members.
Circa will have several mini-performances and workshops all throughout Iowa City, she said, including the Senior Center, elementary schools, and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
“We like to make sure that we spread out the residency as much as possible,” James said.
In terms of the performance, James praised Circa’s ability to convey starkly different themes in the circus, along with the chemistry the members maintain while working together.
“[The two shows are] both acrobatics, but they go in different directions,” she said. “A person could go to the two events but have different experiences.”
Iowa City residents will enjoy seeing an act that they would not typically see otherwise, she said.
“The artists are coming all the way from Australia, and I think it’s always exciting to see international artists,” James said.
When: 2p.m. & 7:30p.m. April 25
When: 2p.m. & 7:30p.m. April 25