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How to Touch Your Bum With Your Head, and Other Uncomfortable Positions: The Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain; Until February 27th

Posted by Amie / February 16, 2011

Lunga Contortionist at the Festival Mondial du Cirque du DemainWhen else are you going to see the best circus performers in the world for $100 less than Cirque du Soleil?

This show even has a few Cirque du Soleil performers in it, but the acts are all presented individually (mostly by individuals, duos, or trios) instead of being connected by a vague story about insects, the Beatles, or a giant egg. This is not a bad thing.

From now until February 27th as part of the Montreal Highlights Festival, the TOHU circus arts training, creation, production and performance space at 2345 Jarry Street East is hosting the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain. That means a selection of the annual Paris festival's bronze, silver, or gold medal-winning trapeze artists, jugglers, a guy who beat boxes WHILE either juggling (or shaking your children or flirting with your wife), a South African contortionist, the Chinese National Troupe, and a master of aerial straps are all in town.Festival mondia du cirque de demain-darkan aerial strapsWhat are aerial straps? They're kind of like gymnastics rings but a whole lot longer, so you can wind them around your arms a bunch of times to pull yourself about 20 feet into the air, hold it for about 10 seconds (or until you start to lose circulation in your tightly-wrapped arms), and then drop dramatically to untangle yourself. You can do a similar thing on a long pole and the drop leaves you about an inch from the ground. I say "you", but I really mean the Kazakhstani who goes by the name Darkan and the Tunisian Chinese mats performers. Chinese National Troup at the Festival Mondial du cirque de demainAll the performers are selected for their technical and entertainment skills, but you can tell which ones are more about being technically amazing and which ones know how to please an audience. After performing a ridiculously difficult routine a million times after years of practice and dedication, I can understand why you might forget to smile or play to the audience, so you have to really respect those who, like the Chinese National Troupe, were a perfect balance of skill and entertainment.
Duo Vector - Not from the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain show, but it will give you the idea. Imagine one of these guys is a woman

The "hand-to-hand" act is worth the $33 admission ticket alone. I looked for a youtube video of a guy-girl team to demonstrate how ridiculous this act is, but you mostly find guy-guy acts because you need to be strong and probably about the same weight as your partner to do this art well. So if it's a guy and a girl you'd think the guy would be supporting the feather-light girl the whole time, right? Yeah...not so much. "Duo You and Me: Igor Gavva and Iuliia Palii" from the Ukraine were definite show highlights.Hand to hand at the festival mondial du cirue de demainIf you go expecting big numbers with lots of group numbers with flash, lights, fire, and little extras, you might be disappointed, but the opening number features students from Montreal's very own National Circus School. They're young and incredibly strong, and someday one of them could be a winner of the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain.

If you don't speak French you'll miss a lot of the ringmaster's dialogue, but that's not what you're there for. Focus on the woman who can touch her bum with her head.

Festival Mondial du Cirque du Demain
Where: TOHU, 2345 rue Jarry East
When: Until February 27th, 2011
How Much: $39.11 tax in.
Why: Because your body's just not supposed to do that

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