Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Circus nouveau comes to town

By Ho yi

The annual Open Air International Arts Festival, Taipei (2007兩廳院廣場藝術節) will transform the plaza in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall with a weekend big top.

Last year, about 180,000 people attended the weeklong event. Despite its popularity, however, this year's circus has been shortened to three days because of renovations at the theaters flanking the park, art director Yang Chi-wen (楊其文) said. Though much shorter, the lineup includes diverse performances typical of circus nouveau.

Tonight, Hong Kong's Akash opens the festivities with a mix of pantomime, improvisation, theater and Sufi whirling. Goos Meeuwsen, of the Netherlands, will entertain with a clown performance.

Other events include French juggler Jerome Thomas' new production, Cirque Lili. Thomas is known for his ballet-like manipulation of props and imaginative poetry accentuated by the jazzy sounds of accordionist Jean-Francois Baez and sax player Vygintas Kisevicus.

Canadian artist and curator Jerry Snell's group returns this year with Flash, the first circus nouveau production made in Asia. Having premiered at last year's festival, this weekend the international troupe will perform new numbers, which blend special effects, acrobatic skills, live music, video, hip-hop, contemporary dance and kung fu. The show will go on tour for two years after its Taiwan performance.

Taiwanese troupes will also stage genre-mixing performances. Object Dance Company's (玩物舞蹈劇場) choreographer Chen Hsing (陳星) will perform a mixture of Chinese opera and martial arts. The award-winning Chi-Wu Kungfu Arts Group's (極武功夫藝術團) performance combines Western symphonic music, contemporary theater and choreography with kung fu.

Festival notes

What: 2007 Open Air International Arts Festival, Taipei (2007兩廳院廣場藝術節)

When: Today through Sunday

Where: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Plaza

Tickets: Cirque Lili performances are sold out. Other performances are free

On the Net:

Circus nouveau is a physical form of expression that aims to break down the barriers that confine artists, Snell said. He has traveled through Asia and Australia for the past year, building a network through which people can share their visions and build bridges between different cultures.

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