Saturday night is Supercrawl prime time, and the central spectacle of the evening was, as always, the highflying antics and storytelling of Circus Orange.
On their fourth year at the Supercrawl, the Ancaster based performance company took to the skies to entertain an audience of thousands.
Dancers performed while harnessed to the side of the York Boulevard parking garage, while the stage below provided the Circus Orange claim to fame: fire, and lots of it.
With mounting intensity, elaborate torches and giant sparklers were presented in a faux-religious ceremony. The show concluded the only way it could, a shower of sparks, lights, flames and fireworks.
The presentation, as usual was as much spectacle as it was oddity, but as explained by co-owner and artistic director Rebecca Carney, all of Circus Orange’s unique set pieces and routines start with a story.
In this case, the choreography and set pieces told the story of life in its stages from birth to adulthood.
“The hanging upside down was the birth cycle and then you got your playful cycle which was very youthful and very light. We have the fun kind of edgy thing which was turning into [and becoming] a teenager and then the conflict of moving from that to being an adult,” explained Carney.
The clothing of the dancers above the stage emphasized their “humanness,” while the unorthodox costumes were worn by performers on the ground.
The ritualistic and religious overtones of the stage were not accidental. The fire wielding “shaman” costume has actually been a reoccurring feature of Circus Orange shows, indicating the leader or ringmaster of the show.
The Supercrawl performance was conceived of, cast, and planned just two months beforehand. Carney expressed her excitement for the possibilities of this new performance as it would be the first time that they used the side of a neighborhood building as their mainstage.
“I’ve probably wanted to use that wall for like three to four years now, so it was really nice to finally get on it... It’s great because most of the audience could see everything on the wall.”
Carney formed Circus Orange with her partner Tom Comet. Carney’s creative direction is informed by a background in theatre and prior experience in traditional circus performance.
Comet is a 20-year circus veteran, specializing in chainsaw juggling and fire eating, a skill he taught Carney. The scope of Circus Orange’s performances has only expanded since their launch in 2002.
Though it is too early to tell what the next year’s plans will look like, Circus Orange has been one of the only acts to ascend as a "classic" component in the Supercrawl experience. For many attendees the evening would not be complete without adding some burning orange hue to the night sky.