Gifford’s Circus

Review in Issue 15-2 | Summer 2003

Hoxton Square is an unusual place for a travelling circus, but Gifford’s white tent and sawdust-filled ring occupies the space confidently and brings to London a near-lost magic. This is Gifford’s fourth season and boasts a packed programme of new acts.

Central are three ‘characters’ (Ballerina, Scottish Dancer, Cowgirl), given dramatic context through playful discovery of their individual natures and deftly using a variety of skills: dance, aerial work and equestrian vaulting.

In contrast to the delicately romanticised nature of the ‘characters’ is the vibrancy of the other acts – the ecstatically energised juggling of Bibi and Bichu, the sheer force of the Russian strongman Oleg, the playful complicité of slack rope walker Lyndsey, and hypnotic rhythms of Luis and Ariel’s gauchos.

The presence of horses is a welcome sight and smell. The partnership between them and their human counterparts is clearly one of trust and faith. It is not as spectacular as some horse work that I have seen, but these moments have a powerful dignity about them.

What is striking throughout is the atmosphere of innocence that the performers bring to the ring, their characters’ wonder becoming your wonder. This is juxtaposed against the more knowing air of the live musicians, who appear like parents watching over and leading the antics of infants revelling in new found skills. This sense of childhood wonder overcoming adult knowledge is at the heart of circus. Gifford’s may be small in physical size, but in heart and soul it is a veritable Goliath of circus magic.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-2
p. 26 - 27