Almanac Dance Circus Thattre

Union Hall, Vienna, Maine
August 2, 2015

Almanac Circus Theatre Performance Dazzles — A Review

Adam Kerbel and Ben Grinberg in Communitas
(Both dancers are former Resident Artists at Bearnstow.)
Photo: still from video

The Almanac Circus Theatre dancers aim to fuse “acrobat­ics, storytelling and daring physicality,” according to the company’s mission statement, and on the evening of August 1, they delivered on that promise.

The dance Communitas was performed by Dance Circus Theatre founders Nick Gilette and Ben Grinberg, as well as dancers Adam Kerbel and Lauren Harries in a central space at Vienna's Union Hall. The audience surrounded the dan­cers in a circle of chairs, lending an intimacy to the performance.

There were no props, yet performers seemed able to find invisible bars to swing from as they leapt against gravity, walked up and down each other's standing bodies, and per­formed combined cartwheels.

One of my favorite moments was when—with one dancer standing on the shoulders of another—they formed two tall and utterly mobile dance-doubles, moving as effortlessly as if everybody was on the ground. Then they jumped from shoulder to shoulder as one dancer wheeled upside down to land on another's shoulders, and another body rose on top of another and then leapt in air.

If this sounds impossibly complicated, it was.

Communitas is described on line as the “tale of the founding of a civilization,” but it seemed to me rather about the struggles of individuals within community, both with themselves and with each other. The electrifying dance in Mt. Vernon's Community Center, within a performance space formed by the local Community,dramatized creative and shifting relationships.

Accompanying the dance was music of guitar and drum, played by Alec Kane, a 15-year-old musician from Mt. Vernon hired at the last minute. Alec improvised as they danced—and provided truly beautiful music for the astounding per­formers in the ring.

Again from the Mission Statement: “We are choreographing adventures for ourselves to embark upon and nightly see where we land.” Their words invoke the spontaneity, risk, improvisation, and complexity of Almanac Circus Theatre.

A spectacular performance, full of comic and miraculous moments. As the Web site promises, “It will snatch your breath right from your throat.”

The event was sponsored by Bearnstow (on Parker Pond in Mt. Vernon) and Vienna Arts.

—Pat Onion, Vienna, Maine, August 5, 2015