By Christine Leonard
CALGARY — “Winter is such a bleak time of year, we really wanted to kick out the winter blues and give people a reason to celebrate,” explains Jai Benteau, co-founder of Calgary-based independent arts collective Cirque de la Nuit. “Having mounted Veradeasi at the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler, B.C., we were eager to bring the show West to share with the fans who are so special to us.”
A multidisciplinary showcase of artistry in all its forms, Cirque de la Nuit events encompass and entire panoply of physical and auditory delights including roving musicians, cunning contortionists, and mystifying sideshow oddities. Coming from a background that included planning raves and private parties, Jai and his cousin Sarah Benteau have been creating circus-themed fetes since early 2013. What better way to commemorate their company’s third anniversary than by mounting their most ambitious affair to date?
“We’ve really stepped up the theatrical side of our shows,” says Jai, who also performs as an electroswing DJ under the moniker Bass Caravan. “Our themes change, but are always wrapped around the idea of circus performers who inhabit a land that’s been frozen in time. Veradeasi takes place in an enchanted wood during the bleakest dark of winter; where all of these characters come to life for one crazy night. It’s much more organic than previous shows like Mécanique, which had a steampunk style to it. Our entire troupe goes to great lengths to create props, costumes, make-up and sets that reflect a traditional vintage circus. As we’ve grown we’ve learned how to transform all sorts of different venues and how to restructure decor and stage layouts to create the most impact in a space. We want people to feel like they’re being whisked away to another world, and lose their inhibitions, as soon as they walk through the doors of Flames Central.”
A three-ring smorgasbord for the senses, Cirque de la Nuit’s Veradeasi promises to be a happening that is best entered into with an open mind and a participatory spirit. The full onstage musical merriment provided by funk-monky Freak Motif, and the evening’s headliner Mike Feear (Slamboree Soundsystem) of London, U.K., will be spread throughout the crowd thanks to some 45 presenters; stilt-walkers, aerialists, dancers, and assorted sideshow oddities who will engage party-goers in a Bacchanalian array of choreographed and spontaneous encounters.
“It’s a mix and mash between polished acts and intense free-flow entertainments, where you’ll find a diverse spectrum of people walking around and seeing life from a new angle,” Jai explains. “Everyone’s trying to push envelope, but for us it’s a matter of how you repurpose it. You don’t get an opportunity to participate in an amazing one-on-one audience experience when you buy a ticket to Cirque do Soleil. So come out, dress up, and let go of the nine-to-five routine. Lose your inhibitions and be more than just a spectator.”
Cirque de la Nuit presents Veradeasi at Flames Central Feb. 13.AB, Alberta, Cirque de la Nuit, Flames Central, Veradeasi