• Cirque de Demain

    Banquina at the 30th Cirque de Demain

    The Circus of Tomorrow honestly seems more like the Circus of Yesterday. Cirque de Demain isn't as trad as Monte Carlo Circus Festival (where they have animal acts and nearly everyone's a minimum fifth-generation circus performer), but you wouldn't call it the cutting edge of the contemporary scene. There are no open applications, with all the contestants invited, and the whole thing has the atmosphere of an industry congratulating itself.

    Which isn't to say that it can't be enjoyable. Taking place in the immense – immense – Cirque Phenix tent and hosted by the pallid and florid Calixte de Nigremont, it's like the Eurovision Song Contest: tacky and grand and not at all serious. The acts themselves are generally solid, workmanlike, so long as you don't judge them by standards they never intended to attain, and the Chinese participants can be relied on to break out some jaw-dropping and exquisitely pointless physical feat.

    For a full account of a recent edition, see Sideshow's Cirque de Demain feature.

  • Magazine

    By John Ellingsworth on 1 February 2009 in Features

    I might as well be at the Eurovision Song Contest. Awful brassy music is playing as lights sweep across the tent and stage and performers march on from either wing, waving national flags. Topless men; women in spangly leotards; obvious clowns. A troupe of girls in white appear to continue Chinese circus’ gleeful indiscriminate sacking of western popular culture by wearing ten identical Uma Thurman Pulp Fiction wigs. As the lights swing out to rake the front audiences the compere welcomes us to the 30eme Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, held here in the enormous 2000-seat Cirque Phenix in an outlying park in south-eastern Paris. He is actually welcoming me for the fifth time.