Le Cirque Esprit turns Doudna into circus

Ryan Meyer, Multimedia Reporter


As the lights went down and the nearly sold-out Dvorak Concert Hall crowd settled in for what would turn into a Tuesday evening of acrobatic feats, the members of the Boston Circus Guild took the stage to the live music of CORDIS to perform “le Cirque Esprit.”

According to the event’s program, “In February 2019, Richard Grimes and CORDIS partnered with Boston Circus Guild on a creative exploration into sight and sound with the award-winning production, le Cirque Esprit. This powerful new production has quickly established a unique identity in American circus by framing the pioneering contemporary music of CORDIS under Boston Circus Guild’s spectacular tapestry of lights, acrobatics and aerial work. The result is a one-of-a-kind event for the entire family.”

The night began with a guitar melody that increased in prominence as the guitarist Hayes Cummings’ bandmates, Jeremiah Cossa on keyboards, Jeremy Harmon on cello and Andrew Beall on percussion joined in the tension-laden first piece, bridging the gap between serenity and unease with every chord change.

The music, composed almost entirely by Richard Grimes, was fitting for the dramatic yet graceful moments the entire show presented. The band demonstrated the importance of live music in such an event, giving the whole experience its organic feel.

The circus featured everything from juggling acts by Tim Ellis and Roger May to a feat of balance by two performers demonstrating strength and cooperation in such subtle yet clear displays that the audience couldn’t help but clap at the seemingly eight-limbed creature that had taken over the stage.

Both the music and performers were entirely wordless, yet Destiny Etuk, a junior biological sciences major, interpreted a recurring theme as one performer learning the skills of all her counterparts and utilizing them in the finale.

“I believe it was more of her finding herself and taking everything that she’s learned from everyone else and making it into her own, and then becoming like part of the circus with them, and just being her own act,” Etuk said.

Etuk enjoyed the show, particularly when all six performers took the stage at the end in a display of coordination and practice.

“It was just such an exhilarating experience. I loved seeing when it got to the climax when they’re about to do the big lifts or a big jump,” Etuk said. “I really loved the silks, I thought that was amazing.”

Dr. Anne Flaherty, the Vice President for Student Affairs, said she also enjoyed watching the cooperation the Boston Circus Guild demonstrated.

“I also liked when there were a couple of them together and they did moves off each other’s bodies, I just thought the coordination was really fascinating,” Flaherty said.

Le Cirque Esprit was Flaherty’s first Doudna show since she became the VPSA in the summer of 2020, a year devoid of Doudna events in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is my very first Doudna performance ever,” Flaherty said. “I didn’t get to the first one this year and we didn’t have them last year, because of COVID. It looked really interesting…it looked like a fun show, energetic, and I didn’t fully know what to expect.”

The six performers and four musicians left the stage to applause at the end of the most unique event Doudna has held this year.

CORDIS is returning to the Dvorak Concert Hall on Tuesday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].