An old one, a big one, La Piste aux Espoirs began more than twenty years ago in a tent borrowed from famous clown Annie Fratellini, evolved into a competition of acts for amateurs and professionals, then about ten years ago shifted tacks and started to programme contemporary (then, new) circus. The festival is sited in the theatres and performance spaces of Tournai, with year-round circus theatre Le Prato a notable collaborator.
Much of the 2011 programme is work that has been seen elsewhere and had a healthy life on the circuit, though of course that only matters if you went to a lot of festivals in 2010. So Compagnie XY perform Le Grand C, a piece built from the theatrical essence of two of circus' oldest disciplines, pitching and the human tower; Okidok subject audiences to 10 Ans de Ha Ha Ha (which Sideshow saw at the Mime Festival in 2010 and thought stale and ready to be shelved); cross-dressing terror clown Ludor Citrik embodies the bouffon in Je Ne Suis Pas Un Numéro; and Circ'ombelico arrive in their truck with the show they perform in the back of it (the audience crammed on wooden benches), Da/Fort. One of the more interesting and less travelled pieces to look into is Cie Moglice-Von Verx's Rhizikon, a play about risk, folly and necessity from the perspective of a trapeze artist.