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Le Cirque Astéroïde

Le Cirque Astéroïde

A performance in a truck trailer

In excess

by Maria Paola Zedda

In Le Cirque Astéroïde, Swiss choreographer Marie-Caroline Hominal pays homage to the inimitable artifice of theatrical performance by revealing its inner workings. Her eccentric and whimsical staging alchemizes magic, symbolism and paradox in an prosaic urban cauldron, evoking both the structure and chaos of a festival, circus or amusement park. The impromptu performance, a ritual of light and darkness, surrealistically channels the near-defunct playfulness and giddiness of the modern and pre-modern eras.

This performance is not just a portal: it also marks a breach in today’s functionalist approach to production and reproduction. With its mysterious, hypnotic illusions, Le Cirque Astéroïde harnesses the apparatus of capturetypical of the traveling carnival. In a more earthly register no less integral to the show, the entire performance takes place in the 13-meter-long trailer of a truck.

This oracular fun-show features Julia Batinova, with her dark and disturbing vocals; Catia Bellini on the drums; Samuel Pajand on the trumpet; hip hop dancer Leonilde Torrini; and Hominal herself as choreographer and dancer. The five artists move like asteroids in the cavernous trailer-cum-circus tent. The “acrobats” of Le Cirque Astéroïde each trace their own orbit, darting through the horizontal space of the trailer without colliding into one another, each with their own movements and center of gravity. They soar and retreat with mathematical precision and a dark elegance that convey both solitude and complicity in infinite space and time. In this galaxy, they collapse together as in a black hole only to reappear and scatter nimbly and effortlessly. The pulsing theatrics of their swirling and energetic lightness convey collective escape and freedom.

This work is built upon wonder, concealment and vertigo (or ilinx, as defined by sociologist and anthropologist Roger Caillois in Man, Play and Games). Yet it also bears traces of glimmering yet restrained black humor that, rather than distracting from the work’s self-parody or disillusionment with the vacuousness of reality, augments those features with its surrealistic playfulness.

Joyce Mansour once described fellow surrealist writer, André Breton, with these words: “He loved the ascendant – all that exalts, conceals and poeticizes the individual. He loved to laugh.” The same could be said of Hominal, whose affinity with Breton comes across in Le Cirque Astéroïde, with “the total revolt of the self that refuses to be defined by its own sensitivities.” She uses sarcasm and self-deprecation to examine the limits of her own language, of her own repertory – nothing is excepted – and of her notable accolades (at the 2019 Swiss Dance Awards, she was awarded the “Outstanding Female Dancer” prize). Through all this, she serves as an illusionist, as if truth and falsehood were two sides of the same coin, thus adding to their mystery.

Through the levity and elegance of her choreography, Hominal embodies the Surrealist movement a century after its emergence. Yet she adds a distinctly feminine and feminist touch that comes across in her off-beat and transgressive reimagining of the witch. In this, she aligns herself with the ideas of philosopher Silvia Federici, who calls into question the normative dimension of capitalism. Hominal also draws on sorcery, (dis)apparition, premonition and the allure of her own spectral dancing. Le Cirque Astéroïde is a finely-tuned performance of text and speech whose unsettling yet seductive melancholy works in counterpoint to its glitter, glamor and rock-and-roll.

Photo Emilie Marron

Performance, artistic direction, concept, text by
Marie-Caroline Hominal
Julia Batinova, Catia Bellini, Samuel Pajand, Marie-Caroline Hominal, Pakissi Semedo Estevao alternating with Leonilde Torrini or Salomon Asaro-Baneck

Premiere 11 & 12 July 2020 Festival de la Cité Aux confins de la Cité – Lausanne (CH)
08 May 2021 Fête de la danse, Théâtre de Vidy – Lausanne (CH)
12-13-14 May 2022 Fête de la danse, Geneva, Bulle, Fribourg, Bellinzona, Luzern (CH)
21 May 2022 festival iTAK, Manège scène nationale, Maubeuge (FR)

23-26 Aug. 2023 Festival international d’Aurillac – Aurillac (FR)

08-09 Sept. 2023 Fuorimargine – Cagliari, Sardaigne (IT)

16 Sept. 2023 Hangartfest – Pesaro (IT)

17 Oct. 2023 festival FarOut, BASE – Milano  (IT)

18 Oct. 2023 Festival Le alleanze dei corpi – Milano  (IT)

photo Emilie Marron

photo Umberto Dolcini