A New Genre meraviglia & stupore
Breaking the strict formalities of the ballet world by liberating the performer’s body, conceptualised modern dance. Through the succession of creators willing to break the norms of classical ballet’s holy beauty, a free system of movements emerged that eventually liberated the form of expression and fostered a variety of dance genres. This tradition has become so powerful that today it even influences other related art forms.
Cirque danse is born in the spirit of modern dance: it is the liberation of circus by the independence of dance, an attempt to break out from the strict trick regulated language of the genre. Cirque danse is a fusion of circus and dance through merging wonderment (meraviglia) and astonishment (stupore), where none of the two art forms is more powerful than the other, but they are companions of each other. ‘Cirque’ finds freedom, whilst ‘danse’ gains a new power in expression, and a hybrid performer is born who unites the two.
The Evolution of a New Form
The power of cirque danse is rooted in a modern-day longing for miracles. Through the evolution of art, the transformation of a genre is always like an echo of its own time. In our information- and stimulus-loaded world, grabbing and maintaining attention is a greater challenge than ever before. Performing arts, and arts in general are battling this phenomenon. In this fight for immersing the self, we find that the audience can be captivated by something deeply human, or just the opposite, by something extraordinary. This duality, the everyday and the supernatural is the essence of miracles.
Cirque danse is based on circus, where the performance mechanism relies on the wonderment that we find in the ‘trick’ that surpasses the limits of the human body. The excitement of putting one’s life at risk and the astonishment of something nearly impossible establishes a direct and elemental channel to communicate with the audience.
On the other hand, the formal strictness inherited from the traditions of classical circus and the trick that is an indicator only of itself, suppresses the performer’s own voice. The underlying content and the complex emotions are drowned by the strict forms, which can undermine the immersion of the viewers.
The free spirit of modern dance aspires to become a partner of circus in blurring these boundaries of the genre, thus paving the way for what we call ‘cirque danse’. The wonderment of the trick is empowered by the abstraction-ready and emotionally articulate discourse of dance, fulfilling the polarised desires of its audience.
“The power of cirque danse is rooted in a modern-day longing for miracles.”
Since the foundation of Recirquel we have looked at stage performances as living entities entitled to blurring the fine line between different means of artistic expression. Already in the early years we introduced other genres outside of circus, especially classical ballet and modern dance training into the life of our company. During the rehearsals of our early productions, we found that performing abilities were heavily influenced by the traditional training our performers had received, which could burden creation.
The traditional acrobat training is based on a high level of technical precision, where mistakes are not an option. Precision is a natural and necessary requirement in the circus genre that relies on danger to reach out to an audience. The initial years concluded that further training in various dance techniques complements the movement vocabulary of acrobats, and shapes the body in a way that it becomes capable of using the expression of dance. However, placing technical precision required by circus beyond all, doesn’t allow modern dance to liberate and express the self. On the other hand, working with skilled dancers who had already discovered self-expression in movement, we found that in the absence of the required muscle structure, the animation of the trick’s “meraviglia” power goes up in smoke. This phenomenon gave rise to an experimentation that culminated in the birth of cirque danse.
It has become clear to us that in parallel with the aesthetic evolution of the new genre, the education of hybrid performers is a necessity. These professionals manifest the trick as a moment of abstract content, feeling, or thought. To accomplish the above, it is fundamental to be knowledgeable in both genres’ formal way of expression, as well as in the performers’ physical abilities and intellectual freedom.
For the complete symbiosis of the two genres, cirque danse creation preconditions cirque danse training. The educational program of our one and two-year master’s courses was drawn up by a group of acrobats and dance professionals. Our aim is, instead of a parallel education of the two genres, to organically integrate them, to teach not only their specific language of movement, but also the heart and soul of the two art forms. The program is dedicated to train performers who own a common language and are capable of shifting between the two genres in an effortless manner.
These artists can bring performances alive in a way that opens the door for the organic fusion of dance and circus to conquer the yet distant high art scene.