If you think the only circus in town is Cirque de Soleil, think again. Montreal is a circus mecca, thanks to The National Circus School, the largest school of its kind in North America. With so many gifted performers learning the ropes here (pun intended), no surprise that our circus arts scene is creative and vibrant. The annual Montreal Completement Cirque Festival allows performers from all over the world to show off their agile talents.
One group not to miss is a hometown favorite, the beloved Les 7 doigts de la main. Now in its 12th year, this company has toured over 40 different countries. Their shows combine dance with acrobatic/aerial events, largely using their bodies to spring themselves to inconceivable heights. They make it look effortless without arrogance and sensual without sexualization. Their new show Intersection is set around eight characters who must make choices that affect their lives while dealing with a lifetime of baggage. July 2-13, TOHU (2345 Jarry East).
Beardy weirdies make up Barbu Forie Életro Trad by Cirque Alfonse. With their black minimalist clothes, three strong and heavily bearded men are the base of a physical show that features members of the Carabinier Lepine family and friends in acrobatics, juggling, and punching bags. Embrace the weirdness and the madness. An electro-trad band (a band that uses traditional instruments like bagpipes, accordions, mouth harps, and combines them with beats and electronics) provides the music. July 4 to 12. Theatre Telus
Midnight Circus, a group from Chicago, centers on the performances of the Jenkins family complete with kids and dogs. Obviously, other members have joined into this family affair. The Midnight Circus delivers a traditional show of aerial stunts, balancing, juggling, and lots of hoops. The troupe brings Small Tent… Big Shoulders to Montreal. July 4-13, TOHU (2345 Jarry East)
French troupe, Compagnie Lapsus, performs Six Pieds Sur Terre, a show that asks the question how to rebuild the world once it is destroyed. Their act takes objects at hand and transforms them into their new world. With lots of music and building things that are eventually scaled — crates, people, you name it. July 5 to 8, Theatre Outremont. $18/34.
One nice thing about the festival is that it runs plenty of free events for everyone to catch on Rue St. Denis. From July 3 to 13 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., 40 acrobats dressed in red take over the street in a parade that includes acrobatic ping pong across the rooftops of the buildings. Other areas of the city are subject to different performances as well. Also free is Cirque Carpe Diem that takes place at Parc Jean Drapeau, where amateurs and the aspirational can try out the flying trapeze. Parc Jean Drapeau. July 4-6, 11-13, and 19-20.
The Montreal Complètment Cirque festival takes place from July 2 to July 13. See HERE for shows and schedule.