Le Nuancier du Cirque
by Jean-Michel Guy and Julien Rosemberg (Ed.)
Aug 2010
£17.50

Published by the French organisation Circostrada, Le Nuancier du Cirque is a six-hour double-DVD collecting short extracts from 178 contemporary circus shows (with a few trad ones thrown in for comparison). It’s been put together principally as a teaching aid and an advocacy tool, with the clips divided into sections and subsections that support a simple aesthetic taxonomy developed by critic-writer-researchers Jean-Michel Guy and Julien Rosemberg. There is some amazing footage here, without a doubt. Some of the most extraordinary scenes of the last few decades are represented, but cut from their wider context and with no supporting information other than a company and show name. It’s like visiting an enormous library maintained by an indifferent archivist: there’s nothing like a decent index; casual interest will be titillated but soon exhausted. Rather the DVD is principally useful to teachers, researchers and perhaps to festival/venue programmers – for now. In the future Circostrada and partners plan to put the material online with a superior search function, and then perhaps it will be a more approachable project.

John Ellingsworth

John Ellingsworth

John Ellingsworth is the Deputy Editor of Total Theatre Magazine. He also runs the online circus magazine Sideshow and trains non-performance corde lisse.

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