People keep asking me if I’m going to Auch. It’s an understandable question, as the 27th CIRCa Festival opens this month and is an annual pilgrimage for many who seek out the latest in circus trends and innovation.
However, during the exact same period, the biennial festival Circo Circolo is taking place in the Netherlands, and my heart is sending me there.
The Dutch celebration of international contemporary circus was the first experience I ever had of a circus festival, when I visited with NoFit State in 2008. It’s coloured my impressions of what such a festival could and should be, and the opportunity to revisit the magic feels a little like Christmas come early.
Over 10 days in the big tops and tents of the greenfield site, 21 companies will be showing their work, as the festival embraces all facets of contemporary circus life. Students from ACaPA circus school will be performing in the woods of the Velder Estate that homes the festival; world class companies from Canada, Finland and France play under canvas alongside new and developing companies from the Netherlands; a social circus troupe from Belgium’s Espace Catastrophe present Complicités, which tours with mentally handicapped circus artists and traditional performers; a professionals’ symposium explores Circus in the 21st Century, and post-show talks are offered with many of the programmed shows.
Last time I visited the festival I was introduced for the first time to the variety contemporary circus offers, taking in everything from the stylish Rain by Cirque Éloize to David Dimitri’s one man extravaganza L’Homme Cirque. I saw how single disciplines can be developed into full shows watching Les Colporteurs‘ multiple tight-wires in Le Fil Sous Le Neige and L’Atelier Le Feuvre & Andre‘s 90 minutes of clowning in Le Jardin. I watched youth circus for the first time with Circus Elleboog, amazed at how professional and skilled these youngsters could be, in a way that youth drama productions rarely are.
I experienced the groundedness of the Dutch people, and the matter-of-fact circus life where it doesn’t matter who you are, only what you love. I found toadstools growing among the trees, and hot chocolate for sale at the bar.
Auch can wait till next year. For now, I know where I’d rather be.