Vive Le Cirque! The Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain

Vive Le Cirque! The Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain

The master of Masters of Ceremony Calixte de Nigremont welcomes the crowd. Photo © Meredith Mullins

The circus arts can rock the house. And that’s exactly what happened this past weekend at the 38th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain. A lot of house rocking … powered by the style and spirit of bold young artists.

The annual competition is a crowd favorite… and the one Paris event I never miss.

Gold medal winner (and crowd favorite) Chih-Han Chao from Taiwan is nothing short of astounding with the diabolo. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Jugglers defy gravity, acrobats are catapulted, equilibrists balance with strength and grace, aerialists fly and flip and dive with no fear of heights, contortionists bend and fold their bodies in unimaginable ways, and the daring young man on the flying trapeze swoops through the air loving every moment of flight.

The four-day event brings together talented young performers (all under 26) from around the world. The innovation of these artists—as well as their passion, strength, and focus—is as breathtaking as it is mesmerizing.

Gold Medal winners La Compagnie were everywhere—leaping, running, somersaulting, pole hopping, all to the pulsing music of Noir Désir. Photo © Meredith Mullins

The audience feels the energy—even as our muscles tense and backs ache in empathy. No matter what your age, you can’t help but feel young again.

In a time when we might lament the recent announcement of the closing of the legendary Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, we can celebrate the future of the circus arts, as shown in the hearts of these dedicated performers.

Silver Medalist Korri Singh Aulakh from the UK shows no fear of flying. Photo © Meredith Mullins.

Festival President Alain Pacherie notes that the contemporary circus arts constantly create a new language—inventing unique ways of doing things that have been a part of the circus for many years.

This year 20 countries were represented in 24 acts, including first time performances from India, Chile, New Zealand, and Iran.

Ultimate trust between aerialist partners Josefina Castro and Daniel Ortiz, silver medalists from Argentina. Photo © Meredith Mullins

The performers are divided into two programs. They present their act twice over three days 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 connection with the audience. The awards are announced on the fourth day.

The acts are varied, and all are dramatic. Athleticism and artistry fuse to feature theatre at its finest. The expert lighting and powerful music add to the drama.

Troupe de Zhejiang, silver medalists from China, showed mastery of balance, grace, and theatrical story. Photo © Meredith Mullins

This year’s music was particularly soul wrenching, from Nina Simone singing Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit to Jacques Brel (Les Marquises) to Noir Désir (Le Grand Incendie) to Max Richter (On the Nature of Daylight) to Inti Illimani’s El Mercado de Testaccio. The integration of sight and sound carried the audience into the rhythm and emotion of the performers every step of the way.

The jury’s job was difficult, as the caliber of artists each year continues to surpass the previous year’s excellence. Chapeaux to this year’s award winners.

Russian/Canadian Masha Terentieva flies, spins, and hangs with a luggage cart in her highly original bronze medal performance. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Gold Medalists:

Chih-Han Chao (Diabolo—Taiwan)

La Compagnie (Chinese Pole and Korean Plank—France/Switzerland)

French Rémi Lasvènes pauses for a drink in his gravity-defying bronze medal juggling performance. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Silver Medalists:

Troupe de Zhejiang (Acrobatics and Foot Juggling—China)

Korri Singh Aulakh (Swinging Trapeze—United Kingdom)

Josefina Castro & Daniel Ortiz (Aerial Cradle—Argentina)

Saleh Yazdani, representing Germany and Iran, was a bronze medalist with his brilliant display of balance and artistry. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Bronze Medalists:

Campania Havana (Flying Cradle—Cuba)

Masha Terentieva (Aerial Work and Contortion—Canada/Russia)

Rémi Lasvènes (Juggling—France)

Saleh Yazdani (Balance—Germany/Iran)

Campania Havana, flying, somersaulting, and dancing their way to a bronze medal. Photo © Meredith Mullins

For more information, visit the festival website. Get your tickets early for next year’s festival (February 1–4, 2018). Become a Club Pro member and get special privileges.

This is an event that should not be missed. Vive le cirque!

The festival takes place at the Cirque Phénix in the Bois des Vincennes (12th arrondissement). Read about last year’s festival.

Jury President Laurence Esteve from South Africa and Festival President Alain Pacherie. Photo © Meredith Mullins

LJ Marles from the UK. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Time flies when you’re having fun. Arnold Caizergues from France. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Marco Motta from Brazil. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Incredible Mallakhamb from India, linking yoga, martial arts, and balance. Photo © Meredith Mullins

Photo credit : Ultimate trust between aerialist partners Josefina Castro and Daniel Ortiz, silver medalists from Argentina. Photo © Meredith Mullins

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.

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