There is no fear of flying at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain. Heights (and gravity) do not seem to pose a problem. Performers dive off platforms; fly from swings, trapezes, and their partner’s arms; and catapult from see-saw-like Korean planks or springy boards like the Russian bar.
The young performers at the annual Circus of Tomorrow do it all. Spinning, hanging, balancing, tumbling, climbing, somersaulting, diving, juggling, contorting, dancing, and taking leaps of faith. They are fit, focused, and fearless.
The festival (now in its 37th year) is an international juried competition. But, more than that, it is about young talent (under 26) and the future of the circus arts—a celebration of the innovative interweaving of skill, strength, artistry, grace, risk, and heart. And everyone seems to have a good time.
The performers present their act twice and are judged by a 10-member jury, all prestigious directors from schools and circuses around the world. Points are given for technique/technical difficulty, artistry, and rapport with the audience.
On Sunday, the awards will be announced and the medal winners will perform one more time for the enthusiastic audience.
This four-day festival is one of my favorite events in Paris. True, as I watch the performances, my muscles tighten and my back aches in sympathy. I cringe when the contortionist contorts in unimaginable ways.
But most of all I am inspired by the grace and skill (and abs) of these talented performers of the future. They have heart. And their passion and joy are contagious.
Vive le cirque!
Remaining festival performances are Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon at the Cirque Phenix in the Bois de Vincennes. Tickets are available. Visit the festival website for more information.