Cirque Lili - an Astonishing Piece of Theater Set in a Circus
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The last date listed for Cirque Lili was Wednesday July 27, 2005 / 8:00pm.
Quotes & Highlights
Jerome Thomas is “the High Priest of Juggling. He never fails to surprise, beguiling audiences with a performance powerful for its technique, its poetry, and its burlesque humor, all at once. Unforgettable.” —Le Figaroscope (Paris)
France’s master juggler Jerome Thomas and his company bring their creation, Cirque Lili, to the grounds of the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
Jerome Thomas has created a theater piece set in a circus. However, it is Thomas’ tour de force juggling and seemingly telekinetic manipulation of objects that is at the core of Cirque Lili. In this show, which premiered in 2001 at the Carre Magique in Lannion, Thomas’ witty and whimsical character performs his amazing circus acts with the entertaining antics of his sidekick, Circus Boy (Christophe Pilven).
Part theater and part cabaret – but mostly awe-inspiring feats of imagination and skill – Cirque Lili evokes the circus’ red-cloth wood-frame glory days by taking place in a (air-conditioned) tent designed by French architect Gilles Audejean. The tent seats only 250 persons on four risers that surround a revolving stage giving each audience member an intimate experience that conjures up the charm of a bygone era.
Jerome Thomas’ precise and articulate movements create elegant and astounding illusions of gravity being denied. Live musical accompaniment is provided by the jazz-influenced accordionists Guy Klucevsek and Jean-Francois Baez, who help create a magical atmosphere throughout the performance. The show pays homage to the fine art of juggling, its mastery and its discipline, drawing on pioneering artists from Astley to Zingaro, and most of all from Jerome Thomas’ greatest influence, French circus artist, Johann Le Guillem.
Considered to be France’s greatest contemporary juggler, Jerome Thomas has performed with celebrated circus troupes such as Circus Fratellini and Archaos, and has also toured internationally with his own astounding shows. After training and early work as a juggler in circus and cabaret, Thomas turned to working with jazz musicians, which inspired him to experiment with improvisation in his performances. He has played a key role in the resurgence of circus arts in France, leading him to pioneering research and teaching at the Ecole Superieure des Arts du Cirque in Chalon-sur-Marne, and the Moscow Circus School He is also the Artistic Director of the Festival for Contemporary & Improvised Juggling held in Malakoff, France. In 1993, Jerome Thomas founded the Association for Research in the Manipulation of Objects and it is there that Mr. Thomas develops his shows. This will be Mr. Thomas North American debut and his only scheduled performances in the U.S. this season. Jerome Thomas is current working on a juggling ballet that will debut in 2006.
The composer and accordionist Guy Klucevsek has worked with luminaries such as Laurie Anderson, The Kronos Quartet, Bill Frisell and John Zorn, as well as having his work performed in a number of acclaimed festivals from the Berlin Jazz Festival to the Adelaide Festival and New York’s Bang on a Can. His work is also featured in the compilation album Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach on Tzadik. The music composed for Cirque Lili is said to be so difficult that it can be played by only a very few virtuoso accordionists in the world.
From the age of 7, Jean-Francois Baez has been playing the accordion with much gusto, performing in many French jazz festivals, from Les Mans to Francheville, and Rive de Giers to Cherbourg. He has been working with Jerome Thomas since 2000.
Christophe Pilven (Circus Boy) was first involved with juggling in 1991. Christophe trained as both a dancer and juggler and has worked with a variety of companies including Di-Helo Dance Company, Metronome Circus Company, Serial Theatre, Kabbal Company and Clowns sans Frontieres.
Due to the physically and mentally demanding nature of this show, the performers of Cirque Lili perform only once a day on five consecutive days with one day off to rest, thus leading to the unusual performance schedule of this show.