We are taking our seats as sousaphone players dart around Zellerbach Hall, chatting in French and in English, playing with us, whispering in our ears, yelling—all without microphones. They confuse us, distort us, and when they take their places at a giant wooden door in the center of the curtains we realize we are being invited into their Hotel. The Maître d’Hotel and the Jack of All Trades are our hosts, They bicker playfully before the door, as if to taunt us. It is torturous to be kept from behind the curtain.
And then the curtain rises, and the lights go out. Quiet, inexplicable music rings out hauntingly from the wings as our Jack of All Trades opens his hotel. The performers gradually come to life with the architecture, they twist and turn on stage, we feel as if we are in a dream. A dynamic, blonde-haired singer lights up the stage with her voice. “Hello Berkeley. Good afternooooon…” she swoons into the audience.
Hoteltells the story of a timeless art deco guest house, a hotel in which strangers from all walks of life can meet. Cirque Éloize’s director describes how they aim to create “impromptu encounters that upset the daily balance of things, draw you into the unexpected, into extravagance, and into a new lightness of being”. The performers maneuver their bodies around the stage and move us with this experience. Their hotel takes place in a reality where circus, dance, music, and song come together around real human stories.
The program is studded with standout performances, in this writer’s view, in Hand-to Hand acrobatics, Chinese Pole ensembles, Hoola-Hooping, Trombone, trumpet, saxophone, sousaphone and guitar sets, DJing, Icarian games, Acrobatics, Clowning, Cascading, Singing, Slack-wiring, Juggling, Aerial Rope performing, and Tissu Tension.
Cal Performances at UC Berkeley Host A Circus Unifying the Stage with the Audience
Viewers laugh and gasp. Someone in the back screams “oh stop that!” as Vanessa Aviles (The Star) ascends the Tissu Tension, plunging and flirting with the stage floor. She then quickly scales the heights of Zellerbach Hall, as if she can’t help it. We hear singing and Spanish guitar, sousaphones blare as dancers arabesque through hoola-hoops, we watch jugglers and pole-climbers, jokesters and jigglers.
Hotel circles themes of love, sadness, imbalance, and mischief, and creates an environment where the audience, too, imagines their bodies are capable of bending around situations, and thriving, in the same way. We marvel at what is happening before us. It is a spectacular, jaw-dropping performance, but somehow it is encouraging.
Cirque Éloize’s original performancewill likely have strong appeal to any and all interested in dance, music, and acrobatics — from children, to students, to professional dancers.