The nouveau cirque dynamic duo IÉTO cartwheels into
The annual French-Thai cultural festival known as
This week, the festival's spotlight will be shining on modern circus and dance performance as the Toulouse-based Compagnie IÉTO take the stage for "IÉTO".
This innovative show mixes tightrope and acrobatic skills with street-dance, pantomime and comedy and makes extensive use of wooden benches.
It starts with two men sitting on a bench as if waiting for a bus. One has a goofy grin and curious demeanour; the other is cool and austere. The former tries to make friends with the latter, who snubs him by exploding in a whirl of speedy, light footed back-flips and cartwheels, to which of course, he's man enough to respond.
What follows is a adrenaline-pumping series of body curls and flying jumps, with up-ended benches being climbed, hung from, raced along, and balanced upon with the ease and agility of wild monkeys. They form a giant T out of two benches, race up it, and use it like a seesaw with absolute precision and sheer fearlessness.
Says company's co-founder, acrobat Fnico Feldmann, "I was 14 when I met Jonathan Guichard and we decided we wanted to work together. At the end of our circus studies, we tried it. At the beginning, we worked on a short performance, which lasted eight minutes. By luck it worked really well and we decided to create a one-hour show. I've been working with wooden benches for a long time. Jonathan agreed to work with these benches but we had to build a wire for him too."
Feldmann says that the show has changed over the years, "because we've been working with director Christian Coumin several times a year. It changed also because Jonathan decided to stop performing to study music. In August 2010, Mosi Abdu Espinoza substituted for him. In fact, the audience is always different and the show is different all the time because of the audience's reactions."
In 2008, they won the prestigious award for young European circus artists—Jeunes Talents Cirque Europe, which encourages artists to cross boundaries of arts.
Feldmann says, "We cross boundaries with other art forms because as part of our training, we practised dance, theatre, capoeira, breakdance and more. So we're now using what we've learned. While we were creating the show, we never asked ourselves if it was circus or something else. The award encouraged us because it gave us the chance to meet a lot of professionals who are interested in our work."
Apart from touring extensively in
"It's a really great experience to perform in
Thanks to "
Feldmann says, "There are different ways to understand our show. You can just enjoy the acrobatic performances, sibling rivalry and the aestheticism but there are also other underlying messages like the usefulness and the sense of our acts. Each person has his own sensibility and his own reading of the show."
GRAB A BENCH
"IÉTO" is at
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in THE NATION on Tuesday 7th February, 2012
photos courtesy of La Fête 2012
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