Circo de la Luna is a collaboration between aerialist Amanda Topaz, flamenco dancer, Sonia Olla and flamenco singer, Ismael Fernandez; theatrical circus in tandem with indigenous, Spanish performing arts. I use the term ‘in tandem’ because the two take turns rather than mesh.
An ostensible story of “moonstruck city dweller,” mime/clown Mark Gindick, “whisked away on a magical journey to Spain, Cuba and Beyond,” the piece neither integrates its hero nor even, but for terrific geographic slides, makes us feel as if we’re on an unwitting expedition. (If you don’t read the program you may not ‘get’ the premise.) This is a missed opportunity. Gindick, an appealingly sweet, sad sack, is clearly capable of other participation. A later scenario in which he constructs and mans a lonely kissing both is completely charming.
Individual acts are skilled and entertaining.
Amanda Topaz does graceful aerial work on a hanging moon and red, double-silks (suspended from the ceiling). The popular circus turn (no pun intended) can be seen everywhere these days from Queen of the Night to Company’s XIV’s Snow White to the Big Apple Circus. Topaz dangles, revolves, flips, and holds aesthetic, sculptural positions. She winds various parts of herself in the silks ‘climbing’ high, extending her limbs, executing a split between the two silks, and somersaulting down.
Of the same ilk and also talented, aerial “astronauts” and contortionists Anna Venezelos and Olga Karmansky come down to earth with intertwined shape-shifting implying they’re both double jointed. The extremely strong and lithe women fold on, over, under, beside and across one another with nimble elegance. (Sarah Sophie Fliker is also an able aerialist.)
Angelo Iodici AKA AJ Silver, straddles the two worlds presenting an exhibition of Boleadoras – weights on the ends of interconnected cords, designed to capture animals by entangling their appendages-which are used by Argentinean ‘cowboys’ to hunt.
Dressed in appropriate Gaucho costume, emanating palpable masculine heat, Iodici employs these to create rhythms. Ropes are whirled around vertically, balls at the ends hitting a resonant platform. The addition of dancer Sonia Olla’s rhythmic footwork manifests intricate, metered cadence with which uber-drummer Gene Krupa would’ve been fascinated. The performer also briefly demonstrates his prowess with a whip to a sporting audience volunteer.
Mark Gindick, Sonia Olla
The highlight of the show is unquestionably Olla’s fabulous dancing and Ismael Fernandez’s powerful vocals (if only some of these songs were translated!) Both artists are riveting and sensual. Olla’s foot, arm, hand, and skirt work is a marvel of precision and finesse. Her eyes flash with innate, feline dare. Fernandez’s often a capella singing is immensely evocative. He challenges, seduces. (See opening photo.)
Direction by Mark Lonergan keeps the show flowing and in sync with projected visuals. Grace predominates. The company is beautifully focused.
One caveat: At two hours, the show feels forty to fifty minutes too long.
Photos by Michael Blasé
Opening: Ismael Fernandez, Sonia Olla
Circo de la Luna
Concept: Amanda Topaz
Director: Mark Longergan
Choreography: Sonia Olla, Pedro Ruiz, Valeria Solomonoff
Excellent Musicians: Angel Ruiz, David Stillman
Architectural Photography: Thierry Dehove, Mark Goodwin
The Baruch Performing Arts Center
55 Lexington Avenue