NICA’s (National Institute of Circus Arts) current graduating class spent most of their three-year degree in lockdown. Chances to hone performing skills in front of live audiences were few and far between. Luckily, they now have Eclipse, a full-length ensemble production showcasing all 12 of the budding artists.
Eclipse starts as a dystopian feel with an overflowing, patchwork-coloured nylon parachute cluttering the space (set by Eloise Kent). Performers carry bundles of broken furniture, piles of rags, mis-mashed baskets in over-sized bundles on their backs and wander around, sizing each other up.
An aggressive energy propels little groups to pounce across stage with both hostility and curiosity. Bursts of tight rope, foot juggling and acrobatic displays appear and just as quickly recede as performers blend back into the moving throngs.
Rather than feature performers, Eclipse presents circus skills in mini-ensembles. A pack of rope climbers excite in a well-paced choreography of scaled tricks. Later, a breathtaking cyr wheel quartet has individuals each manipulating their apparati with synchronistic ripples and pulses.
The foreboding energy changes when Judith Dodsworth appears as a singing matriarchal figure, forcing the group out of their selfish and aggressive ways. When she enters, the students are standing around, in their own worlds, staring at mobile phones. Dodsworth marches in, rolling a rubbish bin, yanks away the phones and turfs them into the bin. .. Link to Full Length Article at the Australian Stage.