A different kind of circus will arrive on Penn State’s campus next week when Cirque Éloize’s “Hotel” swings by.
“If you’ve never seen a performance of contemporary circus before, expect to be dazzled, amazed, entertained but most importantly, taken on a journey, back to the time of the Grand Hotel, through the lens of some pretty incredible circus performers,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director at the Center for Performing Arts at Penn State.
The CPA makes a point to be a leading presenter and supporter of contemporary circus nationwide and boasts a special relationship with Montreal-based Cirque Éloize. The CPA has co-commissioned the company’s last three works, including “Hotel.”
With its upcoming production, Cirque Éloize brings 25 years of expertise to a new setting, pulling all the stops to wow audiences of all ages.
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“Because we’re a touring company ... there’s one place we know very well and that’s the hotel lobby,” said Cirque Éloize co-founder Jeannot Painchaud.
The idea started there and evolved, Painchaud said, incorporating magnificent hotel design from the 1930s Art Deco period, and drawing in everyday items one might spot in a hotel lobby, from the front desk to the suitcases to the chandelier.
“The hotel lobby is (also) a place where you have people from different cultures and this is the heart and DNA of Cirque Éloize,” Painchaud said. “The hotel lobby is a place where you have influence from all around, from different cultures, different people. ... It’s a beautiful inspiration, the hotel lobby.”
Painchaud finds it difficult to name a particular aspect of the show that’s his favorite (“It’s like asking a parent which one of your kids you like the most,” he said), but he points to a few.
“There’s a lot of comedy,” he said. “We like to say there’s a tribute to Buster Keaton in the show, in the way we do slapstick comedy. The music is a great part.”
Dupain Vashaw seconds that notion.
“One big thing about the company that sets them apart is their ingenious use of live music,” she said. “This aspect of the performance is very important to us, and I think it’s something that helps the audience respond so enthusiastically.”
But one thing that Painchaud continuously comes back to is the company’s ability to convey a wide range of human emotion and the human experience through their acrobatics, choreography, music and acting. It’s this talent that he says allows them to appeal to audiences of all ages.
“The circus is exciting for everybody, especially for the kids, but we like to say that we also do meaningful entertainment ... we have the excitement of the acrobatics, the beauty of the scenography, but we have some depth into the interpretation of emotions and relationships between characters,” he said. “At the end of the day, these artists are a reflection of real people in real life and as humans we have all those emotions and that’s what we want to represent on stage — life. In that sense, the show is really appealing for everybody.”
If you go
What: Cirque Éloize’s “Hotel”
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3
Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park