No Fit State Circus: Bianco

Bianco

Image courtesy of No Fit State Circus

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to catch No Fit State Circus’ last night in their home Big Top before they set off on tour, and saw Bianco. I saw Bianco last summer but the show has been revamped and relaunched for 2015. The show is still directed by Firenza Guidi, but has some new performers, new acts and new design.

Last time I saw Bianco, I was utterly mesmerised. This time was no different.

No Fit State Circus

Image courtesy of No Fit State Circus

The show, which No Fit State describe as ‘an immersive promenade experience’, has the performers above and all round a standing audience. Half the time, you don’t know where to look, as there’s so much spectacular action happening. All the performers are insanely talented, and I often found myself stunned by the incredible things they mix in as throwaway moments – flips and dance moves thrown in as they move the rigging, or travel to a different part of the tent. Small moments, that take immense skill. There are no words to do justice to how wonderful Bianco is – you just have to see it for yourself.

No Fit State present Bianco

Image courtesy of No Fit State Circus

For me, the stand-out performances were some of the most physically impressive. The final act of the first half is a young guy performing on aerial silks. He was perfect. There is no other term for it. Every movement was precise and graceful, and clearly took some incredible strength and control to execute. Spectacular to watch.

In the second act, I was hypnotised by a couple performing a trapeze act. The trust involved as she was supported by his feet, or he held her up by the neck, and they moved around each other from stunt to stunt…it was quite something to watch. So often with No Fit State, the audience watch without applause, stunned into silence by the incredible feats they’re witnessing.

Bianco

Image courtesy of No Fit State Circus

I think the thing I love best about Bianco, and No Fit State Circus in general, is the sense of fun. Bianco is filled with a sense of mischief, and the performers often seem to almost be playing, showing off for each other and generally having an incredibly good time. The grins plastered all over their faces are genuine, and more than once I spotted a performer waiting to go on having a little dance to the live band or hollering in approval at whoever was currently doing their act.

I’ve decided I’m going to run away and join the circus. I’d like to do aerial silks please. Or trapeze.

Bianco is currently touring, and will be stopping off next in Antwerp. You can read more about Bianco, and No Fit State, here. Keep your eyes peeled for their return to the UK, and GO AND SEE THEM.

Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands

Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands Last week, M and I went with a friend of mine to The Hippodrome to see Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands. The show, by Bourne’s company New Adventures, is a ballet adaption of Tim Burton’s movie of the same name. The production first toured in 2005 and was a smash hit, selling out all over the world. In 2014, Bourne went back to his adaption, and revitalised it ‘for a new generation of dance lovers and theatre goers.’

As a venue, The Hippodrome is great. Friendly, efficient staff, comfy seats and a decent view wherever you sit. It did seem to be about a thousand degrees in there though, and we were all wildly dehydrated by the time we came out.

Despite the over-heating, the ballet is incredible. It is immediately recognisable as the film you know and love, with the saturated colours in the sets, the costumes and the awkward movements of Edward himself. The plot is much the same, if slightly simplified for the stage. The costumes are beautiful, and immediately tell you what you need to know about who is who with the characters. Danny Elfman’s score fits beautifully and creates precisely the right feel for each moment.

The lead roles of Edward and Kim are shared between two dancers for this season, but I think we saw it with Dominic North (who was nominated for Best Male Dancer at the National Dance Awards for this role in the 2009 production) and Ashley Shaw (hard to tell with wigs, and the website is pretty unhelpful with it’s information on who danced who). Either way, both were incredible. Dancing with scissors for hands can’t be easy, but the movement was stunning. There was something birdlike in the nervous, hesitant moves of Edward, and it was clear that North was comfortable using the scissors in his dancing. I wondered at first how the duets would work with the scissors skewering poor Shaw. I should have known Bourne would have a trick up his sleeve. The first duet, in the first half, is as expected. A dream sequence, with Edward with hands. Beautifully danced, very pretty, seemed like a clever workaround.

And then came the second half. The first half, aside from the duet, is very modern in style, with mixes of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll dancing for the teenagers and a contemporary ballet feel. The second half is more classical ballet. When Edward and Kim dance together, we get straight up classic ballet. And it was stunning.

The iconic scene with the ice sculpture was one of the most beautiful pieces of dancing I’ve ever watched. Edward danced with the scissors on this time, but there were no lifts at all. A duet without the fallback of a dramatic lift is hard to make look impressive, but oh, did it! Kim and Edward moved absolutely in sync, with ‘snow’ fluttering around them. Mesmerising. The very last duet blew it out of the water. Scissors intact, they pulled off some very impressive lifts. Watching it as a dancer, I could see the changes that had been made to allow them to do this safely. Edward held Kim much more loosely than you would usually see, and in slightly different holds. This puts most of the hard work to get the lift to happen onto Ashley Shaw, who must have abs of steel. It looked effortless and breath-taking.

The whole company were immensely impressive, bringing all the dark humour of the film into their dancing, and managing to make clear character impressions even when dancing the same steps as the rest of the company. The second half was particularly impressive, even converting skeptical M into a fan. Apparently, it’s just modern dance he doesn’t like. Classical ballet? More of that!

New Adventures are touring Edward Scissorhands until mid March. You can see the rest of the dates here. Whether you’re a ballet fan, or just a fan of the film, please go. You’ll have your mind blown.

I’ll leave the last word to the original Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp, “Bravo! I teetered on the verge of tears throughout.”

Bianco: No Fit State Circus

Bianco, No Fit State Circus, Aerial Straps

Aerial Straps

On Saturday, I went with the family to see No Fit State Circus perform their show Bianco, in Cardiff. No Fit State are a Cardiff based contemporary circus company, who’ve performed all over the world. Bianco is touring at the moment (although they are currently set up in their own carpark) with a proper circus Big Top.

Co-produced with The Eden Project, Bianco is an immersive promenade piece (meaning the audience is moved around, depending on where the action is taking place). Performers are amongst, above and behind the audience, so there’s always several different things to watch going on, as towers, hoops and tightropes are dropped in and out of the performance space.

No Fit State Circus, Bianco. Trapeze

I know a little about No Fit State from my days in Art’s Marketing (I know a previous Marketing Manager of theirs) but have never actually managed to see them. I wish I hadn’t waited so long. Bianco is mesmerising. The two hours on your feet feel like nothing, honestly, thanks to how engaging the show is. The performers are all mind-blowingly talented, showing off their skills with beautiful routines on trapezes, aerial straps, hoops, tight ropes, trampolines…you name it, these guys can do it. The show cleverly dips between fun, fast-paced routines with the whole company (my personal favourite being a segment with the cast pretending to be swimming and throwing beachballs around) to atmospheric, emotional solo pieces, and everything in between.

Contemporary Circus is not ring-masters and elephants. It’s acrobatics, with an almost cabaret feel. No Fit State are masters at injecting humour into their work, too, which is no small feat when you’re hanging one-handed from an aerial strap.

Bianco, No Fit State Circus

I spent the whole performance entirely hypnotised, as did everyone else I was with! The beauty of Bianco is that there’s something to catch everyone’s attention, be it the skill and strength of the cast, the graceful beauty of it or the immensely talented live band. I saw some very tiny tots in the crowd who were just as fixated as the adults.

If you get the chance to see Bianco or anything else No Fit State are doing, you MUST go. The company do regular workshops, free outdoor performances and even teach circus skills in their base in Cardiff. Keep up with what they’re up to on their website. Bianco is in Cardiff until 7th June, when the show continues on to Limerick, Rennes, Edinburgh and Utrecht. Dates can be found here.

Photos are from No Fit State’s website, as there is no photographer allowed during the show.