Circa brings bodily show to the Broad Stage

Anyone that attended Saturday night's performance by the Australian circus troupe Circa at the Broad Stage was given a glimpse of just how many shapes, sizes and even images the human body can create.

Circa is a unique creation that started in Brisbane, Australia. It isn't a circus involving magic tricks, live animals or special effects.

Every illusion and astounding trick is done entirely by performers with their own bodies in acts involving acrobatics, tumbling, pyramid-building and even hula hoop dancing.

No dialogue was used because none was necessary. If the body can convey language, then the seven performers who make up Circa speak through the movement of limbs.

When the lights dimmed and the packed house fell into a silent murmur, a simple, black background became the stage for Nathan Boyle and Jessica Connell to open the show by interlocking and contorting into themselves, making pyramids and moving in rhythm with stirring orchestral sounds.

The show was one flowing set of astounding, graceful feats. Kimberly Rossi provoked gasps during an aerial acrobatic segment where at one point she balanced herself on the swing using only her neck.

Casey Douglas and Boyle were equally impressive during a performance involving balancing themselves on bricks with just one arm. There was some memorable comedy when Boyle and Brittannie Portelli did a skit where she climbed over him in shiny, red high heels.

The idea was how a man can be completely dominated and hurt by his affections for a woman.

Music was a wonderful backdrop that drove every act and created a real atmosphere. The marriage of performance and music stood out in two specific moments.

The first was when Rossi did a mesmerizing hula hoop dance involving a growing amount of hoops to the sounds of classic French pop. She began with one, then two then a whole set of hoops that spun around her figure to an exhilarating crescendo.

The second big stand out was an act involving all the performers as they did tumbles, gymnastics and air gliding to the sounds of Cake's rendition of "Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps."

The women would sprint at first across the stage, the men would fall to the ground, all seven would eventually form a mass of humans attempting to grab each other without knowing how. Through dance and acrobatics they gave life to the song's lyrics about a lovelorn crooner asking the object of his desire to confirm if she loves him or not.

When there wasn't unrequited romance being performed there were other acts that were noteworthy for how simply they could convey an idea.

For example one act involved Circa member Duncan West simply attempting to climb a giant rope towards a stream of light coming down from the ceiling. West could have been climbing towards heaven or a cloud, but the point was how he could bend, wrap and stretch himself around the rope as he ascended.

Rossi stole the show with a performance involving herself and a deflated balloon she would stretch between her teeth and neck, at one point she took the shape of a dog biting it's own tale.

The climax came when she literally pulled the balloon through her nose and out her mouth. It was Circa meets a late night freak show but the audience loved it because when she smiled, balloon in hand like a wicked little treasure, and the lights dimmed, there was pure applause and cheering.

In the Broad Stage's current crop of performances Circa easily stands out as one of the best of the season. Those who might not be into the flash and spectacle of Cirque du Soleil just down the street on the beach would have enjoyed the stripped simplicity of Circa. It's all about the body's form and it's ability to become an instrument.

Circa transcended the idea of a circus show. It was entertaining for sure but it was also an experience about what our bodies can say.