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Cirkus Cirkör gets under your skin

Imagine a modern dance/circus performance dealing with red blood cells, the human immune system, hormones, disease, vocal chords...

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...sperm, stem cells, and neurons. This may not sound so appealing, but “99 Percent Unknown” was one of the three most popular shows ever presented during the 14-year-long history of Dansen’s Hus, the main venue for modern dance in Sweden. Virtually every performance was sold out and resulted in thunderous audience approval.
The show “99 Percent Unknown” also went on tour around the world, starting in Europe and continuing to Asia. The title of this work, “99 Percent Unknown” refers to the fact that the human body we all carry with us each day is still basically uncharted territory, despite much progress in medical research. We still know only about 1 percent of this complex interior landscape.
The show was the creation of Cirkus Cirkör, a joyful troupe of jugglers, acrobats, dancers, singers, and musicians. Circus founder and director Tilde Björfors produced the 2005 hit show, assisted by choreographer Kajsa Giertz. Charming, amusing, playful, and fun: These are some of the superlatives which came to mind while watching what appeared to be red blood cells cavorting on stage, bouncing, jumping, and slinking about. The entire upper body of one dancer is comically enveloped in a red balloon, while others have just their head inside a red ball, or their entire lower body.
In another scene, what appeared to be nerve synapses slithered down from the ceiling inside grey tunnels that might represent nerve threads. A giant screen in the background shows the pulsing action of nerves. Other vital elements in the corporeal mix of the show were the talented vocal chords of singer Lisen Rylander, who also plays a mean saxophone. She was accompanied on stage by keyboards and percussion; the trio’s cool sound, which would have be perfect for a trendy lounge in New York City, meshed well with the rest of the action.
Unlike conventional circus acts that wow the viewer mainly with spectacular feats—the highest leaps, the most complicated juggling—the modest athletic component in “99 Percent Unknown” was flavored with a giant dose of artfulness, playfulness, and sick humor.
At one point, for example, a beautiful young woman named Henna Kaikula demonstrates muscular agility and strength while balanced on wooden pegs, but each time she does some especially difficult stretch or balancing feat, the audience hears the distinct sound of electronically amplified flatulence. How can one resist this sort of burlesque anarchy?
Compared to the polished and pyrotechnic displays of the much larger and costly “New Circus” acts one sees in Montreal or Las Vegas, the Swedish performance is small potatoes. But in terms of quirky personality and humor, Cirkus Cirkör is number one. A mixture of modern dance, street theatre, burlesque, and science, the end result of “99 Percent Unknown” is 90 minutes of magical entertainment.

For more info, see: www.cirkor.se

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