Feature: Coming up - Roundhouse Circus Festival

Published: 8 April 2010

DEATH-defying, stomach-turning, physically impossible stunts are the order of the day as the Roundhouse Circus Company gear up for their debut performance. 

The troupe, made up of young people based at the Chalk Farm arts venue, is due to perform tumbles and hand-stands alongside renowned Colombian circus group Circolombia, which is headlining at the centre’s month-long spring circus festival.

Co-director Tim Lenkiewicz has been training budding acrobats at the Roundhouse for nearly three years, and this is the troupe’s first professional show.

He became interested in circus tricks when he was studying at Edinburgh University 13 years ago and since then he has worked non-stop around the world, showing off a range of tricks that include acrobatics, unicycling, juggling, high-wire balance acts and trapeze skills.

“The idea is to give professional experience to people in the arts and creative industries,” he says.

And the spectators can expect some catch-your-breath moments, with their show based on an ancient Roman poem, Echo and Narcissus. 

“We are adapting it to tell the story physically,” Tim says.

Among the stars is 20-year-old Felipe Medina Raus, a Colombian who was discovered break-dancing by the country’s national circus company before moving to London and finding an outlet for his energetic skills at the Roundhouse.

“His specialism is handstands,” explains Tim. “He can do some quite incredible things on one arm.”

French acrobats Compagnie XY are among other acts appearing at the Roundhouse circus festival. This includes the trio Adbeliazide Senhajdi, Nordine Allal and Mahmood Louretani, who draw on influences as diverse as football, rugby and the Catalonian “Castells” tradition of forming human towers.

And the 19th-century roots of the British circus tradition will be celebrated by Marisa Carnesky, who brings Victorian gothic theatre and fairground sideshows to life with her show. She says the Roundhouse provides an interesting backdrop for her work. “It’s one of the only venues where you can actually build whatever you like: you could build a house if you wanted,” she says. “It has the most amazing capacity for circus and rigging – you can fly in there.”

A three-day even celebrates the work of festival circuit veterans The Mutoid Waste Company, renowned for their scrap metal machines that have trundled through muddy Glastonbury fields for two decades. They have joined forces with Trash City, a rock’n’roll-inspired performance group that contro­versially took over the Lost Vagueness fields at Glastonbury in 2007.

Roundhouse circus co-ordinator Leila Jones said: “This represents a big part of British culture in terms of the festival scene and doesn’t get this kind of platform. This is the Roundhouse’s way of respecting the ‘underground’. It gives a platform to these artists who exist as part of the underground and are influential, but don’t get the exposure which complements that.”

Roundhouse circus festival - list of events

April 7-10: Trash City 

April 14-17:Sugar Beast Circus: The Milkwood Rodeo / Sugar Beast Circus Show

April 17-24: Compagnie XY: Le Grand C 

April 20: Kleinkunst III – The Sideshow

April 21-24: Marisa Carnesky: Dystopian Wonders 

April 27: An Evening with Gerry Cottle 

April 29: Film Man on Wire 

April 30: Film  Tod Browning Double Bill: Freaks and The Unknown

May 3: Film Something Wicked This Way Comes 

May 4: Memoirs of a Showman 

May 5-8: Slightly Fat Features: Variety in the House 

May 6-9: Circolombia & Roundhouse Circus Company 

May 9: Film La Strada 

May 10: Film Funny Bones 

May 13-16: Acrobat: Propaganda 

May 16: Film Dumbo 

May 16: Film Wings of Desire 

More details and to book: www.roundhouse.org.uk


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