Méandre: Extremes Explored (A Review)

The Captain Meandre. Photo Stephanie Weiner The Captain Meandre. Photo Stephanie Weiner

The National Circus School put on an eerily lovely production with Méandre by Edgar Zendejas, based on the film Pan’s Labyrinth. It was performed for free at TOHU on September 12 and 13.

This piece was the result of a ten week creation and exploration workshop held this summer where six graduating students and one graduate were encouraged to push the boundaries of their comfort zones in performance. Following the show in a Q & A, the director explained how this was both a choreographed piece and collaborative improvisation with the performers.

The Captain Meandre. Photo Stephanie Weiner

The Captain (Dorian Lechaux). Meandre. Photo Stephanie Weiner

Unlike the film, where the fantasy takes place inside the mind of the little girl, Méandre had the cruel Captain at its center. As the name suggests, the show takes the viewer on a meandering journey exploring the fine line between sweet and sour, play and violence, and how easily one can dissolve into the other. As the show progresses, the viewer accompanies the characters between moments of sweet tenderness and rage fueled violence.

At any given time, there were at least two areas of the stage to draw attention. Great for anyone with trouble focusing, this also added dimension with the contrasting visuals. Each performer was given the opportunity to perform a solo in their area of expertise. These were my top 3:

  • Rachel Salzman (the wife/mother) on the Cyr Wheel. It came late in the production, and was a welcome light amongst the dark themes. Her movements were like watching a ballerina dancing within a bubble: light, fluid, and expressive. I felt like I could watch her for hours.
  •  I really enjoyed when the Captain (Dorian Lechaux) was manipulating the fairy (Guillaume Paquin) as a marionette. There was something spellbinding and creepy in the way Paquin moved throughout the show, and this was a really cool technique to watch them explore, especially as it lent itself well as a visual to the power balance between the two characters.
  •  Arthur Morel Van-Hyfte performed on a trapeze surrounded by a giant set of chimes (pictured in the show poster). As he moved, the chimes were struck creating a jarring accompaniment which served to heighten the tension. As if watching someone on a trapeze doesn’t already have your heart in your throat- I enjoyed the extra touch of terror this added.

A bonus shout-out to Ronan Duée, who rode the unicycle and exhibited feats of super human strength with such grace while simultaneously riding and carrying another performer, and for all his grounded hand to hand pieces. Wow!

Audience Q and A Meandre. Photo Stephanie Weiner.

Audience Q and A Meandre. Photo Stephanie Weiner.

The (almost) full house on Friday night gave the production and all involved a well deserved standing ovation.

 

Méandre featured Ronan Duée and Dorian Lechaux (hand to hand on unicycle), Arthur Morel Van-Hyfte (dance trapeze), Guillaume Paquin (rope), Rachel Salzman (Cyr Wheel), Enya White (dance trapeze) and Cooper Stanton (swinging trapeze). Keep your eye out for these talented circus performers!

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