Pontio, Bangor – until 21 July 2017
Stalking in with a whisper and out with a boom, Circolombia are on a Welsh stage for the first time, bringing their urban energy and Latin rhythms to Bangor’s purpose built circus centre with Aceleré. Or, more strictly speaking, for the second time, following on back-to-back from an earlier performance this evening.
With a vibe that’s half street gathering, half nightclub, the Bogota heat radiates out from the troupe of fourteen in this hour of acrobatics and Latino hip-hop, and what they lack in precision, they make up for with spirit. Printed shirts, short shorts and three-quarter-length trousers are lit by bold filters of blue or hot-pink. This is a circus of moods not stories, with distinct acts linked through transitions of ensemble choreographies that bring to mind the Montreal post-Soleil style, and the powerful vocals of Diana Montoya* and Liana Velasquez on hand-held mics.
The soundtrack is further enhanced with Francisco Hurtado’s rap skills, and he also presents one the most spectacular segment of the show with Sandra Ramirez, taking the classic perch act and making it their own by substituting the vertical pole for a large ring which balances in Hurtado’s forehead as Ramirez poses and inverts from its top.
The technical levels aren’t consistent across all the acts, and I wonder if this is tiredness or theatre’s dreaded ‘2nd night’ curse. Aceleré is not about grace and elegance though, but rough street-spun spectacle and a feel-good atmosphere, and this never slips.
Another interesting piece of kit brought on for the first number isn’t given the chance to show us what it can really do. Three ropes dangling from a short central bar are split apart, and two of the show’s six women lend them weight whilst walking a circle around the central rope, giving it added stability for King Louce to climb and perform a couple of holds. The routine never really gets going though, and is sadly over all too soon.
The straps duo of Laura Lloreda and Cristian ‘Palomo’ Triviño is more satisfying, with three movements that allow a generic romance to illustrate at least a progressive attitude between the sexes. The neck loop that supports Triviño to hold his partner in the first section gives way for wrist straps in the third, from which Lloreda can support the larger man from a double ended mouth grip. They are slick and exciting to watch.
Juan Navarro and Camilo Lopez teeter on and off their board a little unsteadily, but all tricks are landed safely, and the act picks up energy as the other men in the company start tumbling towards us from the back of the stage over the central pivot while the tricks are performed from either end.
The balance act of Hurtado and Ramirez is introduced through a sci-fi haze as if the ring were a portal, and next Julia Sanchez performs on cloudswing, the sound of waves becoming the sound of her breath and – she urges to listen – the sound of the rope moving to and fro.
A wordless lament from singer Velasquez in the stalls below increases in power as heavy piano chords become vibrating electro bass, and following the aerial number she is joined by Montoya, both treating us to some vocal acrobatics in the role of singing MCs, geeing the crowd into noise and cheering.
With a stage now full of the ensemble, six members of the Banquinbar troupe perform a Russian Bar routine demonstrating excellent care of each other as footholds slip or balances wobble off centre during a series of somersaults and twists that shoot up into the fabulously high space of the Bryn Terful theatre.
A sudden bow is not the end, as Hurtado takes to the mic to rap shout-outs to his crew, dropping names too fast for me to take in. Now the party-feel is in full swing. Finale, the show ends on the same banquine switches with which it began, tying everything back together for our re-entry to the real world.
The bar outside is buzzing too, and the Syrcas Feast festival displays make me wish I had longer than a day to explore. I’ve come out with a big smile on my face and, despite 7 hours travel thanks to train failures, a renewed energy to keep moving.
*No cast list was available, so name’s have been inserted as best as possible through a couple of hours forensic facebooking. Any errors I will be amended as they’re pointed out. For ease of reading I have used first name and surname, however the full names as I found them are listed below.