With candle-lit table seating, the scene was set for Rouge et Blanc, the showcase cabaret for final year students of NICA, the National Institute of Circus Arts Australia.
MC Aurora Kurth oozed French charm and was resplendent in black top hat, sparkling as she set about wooing her audience until luring a couple onto the stage, while lampooning Shirley Bassey’s “I Who Had Nothing”. As an experienced raconteur, with a fabulous voice, the only thing missing were the tails. Kurth’s varied introductions to each performance, along with the excellent music and choreography, presented contemporary circus with a touch of vaudeville.
Handstands and hula hoops got the energy moving for the first Blanc solo, a tissu or aerial silk performance by the remarkably strong Mia Albers. Albers used her body like a boa constrictor to present a breathtakingly dark and dramatic display in contrast to that of, equally excellent, Lucas Simonds who used aerial straps later in the program.
Ella Horner and Angelique Ross crossed the continent, from Albany and Fremantle in Western Australia, to study at the Institute, and demonstrated their skills with a cube frame. Tiny Horner floated gracefully up into the ceiling while Ross, a Renoir replica with a pale blue ribbon in her red hair, stayed closer to the ground performing a dreamy dance trapeze to the accompaniment of a poem about love.
In singling out some solo performers, it is only a matter of space that curtails praise for each of the 21 performers balancing, juggling, tumbling, unicycling, teeterboarding and mastering of the cordelisse. All brought credit to their trainers and particularly to program manager Rose Stephens and artistic director Megan Jones.
A special mention must go, though, to William Meager who adhered to the dramatic element of the evening with amazing handstands and athletic moves using only a chair and table. Also to Ashleigh Tomasini for her cheeky Marilyn Monroe interpretation while she deftly handled the German wheel.
This spectacular annual event has always been an evening of intense excitement ever since the unique training program, Australia’s only Bachelor of Circus Arts, began 15 years ago with eight students. Today, there are over 100 at six different levels and they come from all over the world. And as the only training institute of its kind in Australia it was gratifying that NICA has a commitment of government financial support for the next three years.