Runaway To The Circus

23 September 2014 | 5:00 pm | Helen Stringer

Montreal-born Performer Frédéric Lemieux Cormier Was Born Into The Circus

"I was pretty much born into the circus,” admits Frédéric Lemieux Cormier, who spent his childhood years on the road with the much-lauded Cirque du Soleil, where his mother worked as a costume designer. His mother attempted to keep him away from the acrobatic action under the big top, but he wore her down and began to spend his time trampolining and being thrown – literally – around by Cirque du Soleil performers. A stint at circus school followed and Cormier is now a resident acrobat at Canada’s Cirque Eloize, hitting our shores with their latest show, Cirkopolis.

Inspired by the classic 1920s Fritz Lang silent film, Metropolis, and staged with a mix of 1950s noir and art deco aesthetic, Cirkopolis sees audiences transported to a grey, monotonic world where life is without colour, set to a backdrop of an industrial dystopia, an anonymous office in an unknown city. An office worker’s imagination begins to bring colour into this oppressive world and, over the course of 90 minutes, 12 acrobats rebel, breathing life into this anonymous city and reclaiming their individuality. “The show is about getting free,” Cormier explains. “It’s about imagination transporting us.”

Cirkopolis is economical, eschewing glitz in favour of a simplicity that showcases performances and artistic vision. The show combines acrobatics with theatre and dance in a show of athleticism, risk and vast imagination. The dozen acrobats and multi-disciplinary artists each spend at least three-quarters of the show on stage performing in some capacity. “At Cirque Eloize we don’t only do our speciality; we do everything in the show. I’m an acrobat, I throw people in the air, I do juggling, I do dance... I spend most of the show on stage.”

Cormier’s current speciality is the German Wheel, a giant wheel that looks very much like the type you’d find in a hamster cage. The wheel is essentially used as a mobile playground for the physically superior, using the momentum of the rotating apparatus to facilitate tricks. It’s risky business, and not just for the performer in the wheel. “When I’m in the wheel I cannot see because the wheel is rolling,” Cormier says, laughing, “but I’ve never hit anyone so far.” It’s perhaps hard to explain; suffice to say, it looks impressive and like it could easily be the source of serious injury. Thankfully Cormier has avoided causing himself serious bodily harm but, he laughs, “I think I’ve bruised pretty much every bone in my body.”

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While Cormier might be keen to try bigger circuses down the line, right now he says that Eloize is perfect for him. “Eloize is like modern circus… It’s more about the artists; it’s more of a human approach. We are only 12 artists who do pretty much everything. For me, it’s like, I’m still young so I really like to be able to push for new skills.” And despite the inherent risk and total dedication required, the 26-year-old laughs that it’s a hell of a lot of fun. 

Sydney Opera House
2 — 6 Oct