Circo de la Luna
Baruch Performing Arts Center
Choreography by Pedro Ruiz
Directed by Mark Lonergan
April 22, 2016
Compelling Contemporary Circus
Powerful Flamenco guitars, a strong singer and aerial artists add up to a modest yet striking performance highlighting things basic to the Spanish soul. If some aspects of Circo de la Luna seem reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil, that’s because Soleil served as an inspiration to create a Spanish equivalent.
The evening’s dramatic segments are intercut with comedy from Mark Gindick, a skilled physical comedian and fine dancer who brings a Chaplin-esque Little Tramp feeling to much of his work. It didn’t hurt that the young woman he brought out of the audience to woo in a kissing booth bit was also charming. It would be hard to not love his red socks and use of bubble wrap.
Flamenco dancer Sonia Olla has been hailed by the New York Times as a “furnace of earthly sensuality” and she is, tapping her feet, snapping her fingers and revealing a deep-seated power. Olla is a frankly mature woman which adds to her force and probably her ability to maintain command for long stretches. Her dancing is accompanied by her on- and offstage partner, Ismael Fernandez, whose dramatic singing heightens her work. Born in Seville of Gypsy descent, Mr. Fernandez is a regular on the Flamenco scene with a fine voice and assertive presence.
To add to the circus sensibility, there is aerial work by Amanda Topaz, first on a moon-shaped rig and later twining her flexible body in hanging red fabric. She’s supple and lithe. We also get contortionists Olga Karmanski and Anna Venizelos, clad in glitter from head to foot, who twine into impossible-seeming poses.
Circo is largely performed in front of a projected backdrop of architectural images from Spain and Cuba. The slide of the bullring in Seville was particularly well suited to Olla’s dancing that recalled the tragic energy of the traditional spectacle inside the ring.
During intermission, magician Matias Letelier introduced himself and handed me a deck of cards. While I followed his ‘pick a card and don’t show me’ advice, he deftly relieved me of my watch, a tribute to his skill at deflecting attention. Invite him to a party and dazzle your guests.
Perhaps the most unusual part of the evening came from Angelo Iodice who works the boleadoras, two balls on a long rope, that make intricate rhythms against the floor. Originally an Argentinean hunting device, boleadoros patterns are hypnotic. Later, Iodice demonstrates equal skill with a whip severing roses from their stems. That he’s great looking doesn’t hurt.
Circo de la Luna brings bravura skills and ample passion to the audience. Give it both ears.