The circus is coming to town

The festival for contemporary circus will be held in Hadera next week.

Cirque Nouveau (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cirque Nouveau
(photo credit: Courtesy) the saying goes, life happens when you’re busy making other plans. Next week, Hadera-based circus troupe ON was meant to be rehearsing in France before going on tour to South America. When their engagement was canceled, founder and director Orit Nevo decided to seize the opportunity to do something she had dreamt of for years – organize a festival in Israel for contemporary circus.
For many, the word “circus” calls to mind big tops, lion tamers, elephant parades, clown cars and trapeze artists. Classic circus shows were once comprised of quick, dazzling acts that left the audience stunned and awed.
Over the years, the circus form has been whittled down, evolved and refined to produce what is known as Cirque Nouveau, or contemporary circus. In this quirky and communicative genre of live performance, techniques from the yesteryears of circus are employed to convey a narrative. Emotional and political content replace animals, and artists are encouraged to not only to come up with an act but also to bring their entire selves into it.
For Nevo, contemporary circus is a vehicle through which she can explore and reflect upon the world around her. It is much more about being real than being pretty or incredible. A coach and cultivator of fellow artists, Nevo believes in letting each performer discover and describe himself or herself.
Next week, Nevo will host the first contemporary circus festival, the ON-time Festival, featuring two Israeli premieres, a children’s show, a master workshop and more.
“Contemporary circus can change the world,” she says.
Nevo, 45, moved to Hadera six years ago with the goal of establishing a center where likeminded artists could convene and create. She is passionate about the impact live performance can make.
“Circus is a place where everything is possible. It’s a place where things that are hard to talk about are possible. Maybe we talk about them with humor or satire, but circus affords people the space to ask questions, criticize and discuss our society,” she explains.
During the days of the festival, Nevo will reveal two of her own productions – Revolt and Somewhere and Nowhere. The latter is the result of a collaboration with legendary French troupe Archaos.
Somewhere and Nowhere tells the story of five immigrants who meet while being detained at a border crossing.
“The show talks about five people that are in an interim, waiting at the door of the immigration office to be able to move forward, which never opens. It’s about what happens to each one of them as they sit and wait for their future,” she says.
Somewhere and Nowhere premiered in the Cirque en Corps Festival in Marseille in 2013.
Following the Israeli premiere of the show, ON will travel to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires to perform with it. In addition, Somewhere and Nowhere and Revolt have been invited to the Contemporary Circus Biennale in Marseille at the beginning of 2015.
The presentation of Revolt will be a pre-premiere or a work-in-progress showing.
“The research for this project is about what it means to be in revolt.
It’s a big question that we are raising. It’s not only about what happened in Egypt, Ukraine or Syria but revolt in everyday life as well. It goes from intimate to universal. We just began this project, and we will work on it for five years. The performance here will be called Revolt 1 because it is the first live exhibition we will do. The audience doesn’t sit and watch Revolt; rather, they come into a space that has five arenas, each with its own performer and video stream,” she says.
For Nevo, the festival is one step towards achieving national recognition for her art form. While her productions tour the world (thanks to the support of the Foreign Ministry), Nevo has to fight for a budget back at home.
“Contemporary circus is an art form without language and cultural barriers. It is communicative and versatile and one of the most important investments that a country can make in the cultural sphere,” she asserts.
The ON-time Festival will take place from April 23 to May 3. For more information: Events/event.aspx?eID=901130692&h=236&w=370