Friday, December 10, 2010
The live indie rock of Nightmare & the Cat, and the mind-boggling movements of a new kind of street circus will make watchers wonder, How is that possible?
by BAILEY SHIFFLER / photographs by ANDREW MACPHERSON / styling by BRANDON PALAS
Nestled on a tattered strip of Hollywood Boulevard between a nail salon and a marijuana dispensary is an iron-gated alley that ends at a large raspberry-red door.
It’s nondescript signage at best, but what takes place inside may be one of the city’s best kept secrets—Cirque School. Still stunning but no longer surprising acts need not apply here. This cavernous space is the home of Troupe Vertigo, whose dizzying acts defy gravity and leave its few, lucky audiences in awe. It’s a far cry from Ringling Bros., and yet it’s not Cirque du Soleil. It’s a genre all its own—a yet to be defined branch of a centuries-old circus culture.
The warehouse turned gymnasium has been retrofitted as a practice facility for this boundary-breaking urban company. Exposed brick walls house dangling trapezes, steel hoops and brightly hued ropes, which serve as the apparatuses for the elite group’s jaw-dropping acrobatics.
Troupe Vertigo was conceived two years ago by circus gurus and life partners Aloysia Gavre and Rex Camphuis, in keeping with their dream of a more impactful form of circus. Gone are the masks, costumes and grandiose showmanship that have defined circus for generations, replaced by rhythmic dance and aerobatics, feats of athleticism and true human power stripped of artifice.