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Montréal Complètement Cirque: Q&A with Australia's Darcy Grant of 'Wunderkammer'

This year’s Montréal Complètement Cirque has pulled together a loaded bill of circus troupes from across the globe—and that even includes some acts from down under. Namely, the renowned Australian group, C!RCA, is returning to the city for another long run at la TOHU. For their fresh new piece, Wunderkammer, this highly talented and unique troupe combines elements of acrobatics, contemporary dance, and even comedy for nine full nights. We sat down with Darcy Grant, one of the seven artists of the show, for a brief chat about his upcoming performance, our dear ville, and some fellow Aussies:


How are things since your arrival in Montréal? You were here two years ago with “By The Light of Stars That Are No Longer,” so how do you enjoy our city?
Well, I’m feeling a bit stretched right now—we’ve been very busy rehearsing so far and we’ve only got five days left before we’re ready to open. But we actually do come to Montréal quite regularly. In fact, it’s become very much a home for us. We’re here for almost two months this year, while we’re back in Australia for only five days.

Montréal’s a circus-crazy city, so do you feel that the audience here is particularly excited or even well-informed?
Yeah, it’s incredible. Currently, we’re training in the National [Circus] School, and it’s great to see something so well funded and with amazing facilities and people. And absolutely, it’s a very well-informed audience, with just the biggest subscribers to circus that I’ve ever encountered. The TOHU shows—we’ve been told—are already sold out for the first couple days, which just amazes me since it seats about a thousand.

So what is the inspiration or drive behind Wunderkammer and its choreography?
All of C!RCA’s shows never have one particular narrative per say, or try and tell too much of a story. We try to tap into the really human elements in all of us. With Wunderkammer, there’s a kind of cabaret and vaudeville bent—so sexuality is a theme. Not that it’s overt in any way—children can come to see the show, no problem. But in general, we try and let the audience tell themselves the story about what’s going on onstage with subtle suggestions.












You guys don’t use a single safety net during your acrobatic bits. How do you think that contributes to the energy of your performance?
The circus’ best element—or its most easily utilized one—is danger. And we certainly use it a lot. We have an act called “Toss The Girl,” which is exactly how it sounds. We throw girls in every possible way you can imagine: we use them as skipping ropes, we jump on top of them, and we throw them across the room and catch them inches from the floor.

Since Wunderakammer runs nine days at la TOHU, how does the show develop over the course of your stay?
Well, we’re expecting a lot of development. We find, even during the rehearsals, that lots of things are being reworked, remade, grown. And with onstage time, it’ll fully mature. In fact, the process is instrumental in our work. We always say we never put on the same show twice. Every night, we try and risk something more, gamble something even.

So how did you yourself get involved with C!RCA?
I had trained as a kid at a Circus school in Australia. So when I was 18, I first came to C!RCA under work experience, and really enjoyed the artists there and Yaron [Lifschitz, our artistic director] with his very unorthodox and strange ways of interpreting circus. It was so different from anything traditional or contemporary that I’d ever seen before, so I made it clear I was available, and eventually they called me up. So I was 19 when I first joined the group, and have been with them for all nine years since.

Fellow Aussies, Tom Tom Crew are also performing at Montréal Complètement Cirque. Do your troupes know each other well?
Yeah, the circus community in Australia is actually quite small. So we all know each other. In fact, there’s one member in Tom Tom Crew who used to be in C!RCA. So it’s that close. But it’s amazing how much of an Australian presence there is this year. It’s a real sign of how exciting things are in Australia at the moment, where the circus is truly bubbling.


Wunderkammer at La Tohu | July 7-10, 12-16


Wunderkammer / Circa | Australie from MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE on Vimeo.