NICA: The Landscape Project
An amorphous cloud of high – revving molecules, continually on the move, fusing ,unfusing climbing, jumping, bumping, entangling ,disentangling…
They hone ‘em well at National Institute of Circus Arts Australia (NICA). The performers don’t wear the spangly , glittery costumes of yore, but they sparkle with the effervescence of youth.
The latest crop of bright young things to emerge from three years of intensive circus arts training exhilarated the audience last night with their graduating NICA performance The Landscape Project . Perky, cheeky air of young children having boundless fun. Don’t be deceived, they’re risking life and limb to entertain us. They’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and ice-packs into perfecting their bodies and minds to do what most of wouldn’t have a hope in hell of doing.
The Landscape Project is a three Acter brilliantly directed by Debra Batton.
The First Part with its subdued lighting and khaki shorts and tops reminded me of a boy scout campfire. Yet it was primal and earthbound with bodies strewn all over the floor, slowly coming to life here and there as individuals emerged to do their thing. Simple props like rows of champagne bottles to balance on, chocks of wood to clack together – a clumsier version of indigenous music sticks.A night landscape punctuated here and there by a few strums of a guitar nearby, a flute somewhere else.
The Second and Third Parts ramped up in colour and action as each of the 14 graduates from all over Australia and New Zealand strutted their stuff . They rose to greater heights as the set provide several different physical levels to operate upon – and under.As an ensemble, the performers explored every nook and cranny of the stage landscape.
I particularly liked the inventive ways the audiences’ eyes were directed all over the landscape of the large stage to focus on particular acts. For example, once it was a ball rolled across stage from one group to another. Another time, two performers stared intently through giant binoculars to make our heads turn to see what they were looking at.
The wow factor was rampant. The students’ hard work paid off as they trapezed, juggled, hooped, balanced, trampolined, acrobaticked, entwined their bodies with single ropes suspended from the ceiling – all the usual circus skills but choreographed in fresh new ways.
Even though they worked as an ensemble, the different personalities shone through as they each showcased their expertise and uniqueness.Their quirky, fun touches totally captivated the audience .
For example, the routine of the juggler who always whispered in a loud stage whisper to the audience and his two accomplices was a real attention grabber and very cute.
The petulant girl who always wanted to perform with the wooden chair only to be upstaged by others was a contrasting thread throughout.
The flexuality of the androgynous contortionist, who must have had some high tech hip transplants to be able to swivel those ball & socket joints 360 degrees, defied any notion of body limitations.
The subtle campy body language and facial expressions of the 3 young men exiting from their balancing act, was somehow both suggestive and innocent. It certainly raised a warm chuckle in the audience.
All fourteen of these super graduates were brilliant, energetic, flying high in their circus arts. One can only wish each one a bright future. May they wow many more audiences.
Thank the Powers that Be, that funding was not withdrawn from NICA. The excellence of the Institute’s training and choice of students is world class and worth every bit of hoolah – moolah spent on it.