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Breathtaking Colombian Contemporary Circus:
Colombian circus company Circolombia opened at the London Underbelly Festival with a bang, literally! In a terrifying opening feat, an artist falls from quite a height in pitch blackness, (presumably onto a mattress) which had the audience agape and with a real sense of what was in store for them.
Circolombia was first born in 2006, providing a needed outlet for graduates from the Circo Para Todas in Colombia, the worlds first circus school for disadvantaged youth, with the support of the Ministry of Culture it has gone on to become Colombia’s National Circus School which inspires diverse communities.
Circolombia describes themselves as ‘circo-concierto’ (circus concert), as music is at heart of their shows. With musical director, Ryan Wilmott’s original score of Latin-influenced music at its core, led by sassy vocalists Diana Montoya and Lianna-Juliana Velasquez, the 14 strong troupe of dedicated, raw, talented circus artists uplift and enthuse the audience singing, rapping, dancing with shed loads or rhythm.
Circolombia’s show is a welcome addition to London’s Underbelly Festival, it comes after a hugely successful global tour, and a smash hit Edinburgh Fringe run.
Director Felicity Simpson, along with celebrated choreographer Carlos Nito have created a breathtaking show which has you on the edge of your seat, and with a front pew there was no getting away from it, I held my breath on several occasions in anticipation, fear and sheer amazement!
The marriage between the music and acrobatics is beautifully seamless, and each artist brings their own individual talent to the show. Lithe acrobats, aerial artists and contortionists each perform extraordinary feats of agility, physical daring and strength of mind and body that is quite awesome and all with an infinite sense of camaraderie and trust.
One of the highlights for me was the sensual and visceral performance from aerial artists Cristian Rincoin and Laura Martinez. On one occasion Laura lifts and spins Cristian whilst she is suspended upside down on a rope with a harness gritted in her teeth and his, and he also does a similarly incredible feat whilst suspended by his neck, blindfolded, all of which is an executed with extraordinary elegance and precision.
There’s plenty of nail-biting somersaults, catapults, jumps and balances using, each other, a seesaw and a Russian bar all carried out with bundles of energetic charm and skill, and Julia Sanchez’s dramatic cloud swing is equally nerve-racking.
Another impressive act was the inconceivable ‘Perch’, where acrobatic base artist Francisco Hurtado somehow balances a large circular perch on his forehead without flinching, with the petit Sandra Ramirez balances inside it, contorting her body in incredible positions.
Circolombia delivers contemporary circus with an authenticity and infectious energy, which is both fearless and captivating and makes for a truly exhilarating night out on the town.
Underbelly Southbank Festival, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: Thur 24 May – Sat 14 July, (not 3oth May),
Prices: from £14 previews, £19.o0 weekdays, £25 weekends
Running time: 60mins
Age Range: Universal
Tickets available via www.underbellyfestival.com