As part of Lincoln Center Festival this month (July 19–22), the French circus collective Compagnie XY takes physical theater to new heights with the New York premiere of its thrilling Il N'est Pas Encore Minuit, a gravity-defying spectacle of multi-story human towers, awe-inspiring takeoffs, soaring performers, eye-popping tricks, perfectly landed somersaults, and so much more.
But these daring acts weren't devised simply to leave audiences gasping, according to one of the company's producers, Peggy Donck. "The main goal of the company is to not only create and perform a show with acrobatics, but to do it as a collective," she says.
The company spent four months creating Il N'est Pas Encore Minuit (It's Not Yet Midnight), which explores the fleeting nature of time, with acrobatic feats that act as a metaphor for the experience of being "suspended between two worlds, two states of being," explains Donck. In that moment of suspension, just before midnight, "a lot has already happened, but there is still a lot of room for new things to occur."
In creating the show, the group knew they wanted to include two specific elements: "Flexible planks for the acrobatic possibilities, and [the] Lindy hop for its high, joyful energy and its welcomed craziness," Donck notes. "We first gathered the team," she says, "finding acrobats who fit in the collective and had something to bring to it." After a series of sessions ranging from one to two weeks to get to know one another, she adds, the artists worked together "to find a common acrobatic language....to create new words, sentences, and poetry. We decided everything together, each of us both following and leading the group within a fine balance." For an outsider's perspective to help shape the work, the collective reached out to choreographer and dance teacher Loïc Touzé, who also collaborated with Compagnie XY on Le Grand C in 2009.
Since its first production, Laissez-Porter, in 2005, Compagnie XY has grown from 6 performers to the 22 who are featured in Il N'est Pas Encore Minuit. The growth of the collective happened organically over the years. "We met people both on tour and during acrobatic workshops we gave," says Donck, and several of those artists are now part of the collective. The collaborative way in which Il N'est Pas Encore Minuit was created stands as a testament to Compagnie XY's motto: "Alone we go faster; together we go further." The collective embodies the spirit of "finding a way of doing incredible things together, united despite our differences," says Donck. "It talks about solidarity, and I think that the world is really in need of that right now."
For tickets and information, visit LincolnCenterFestival.org.
David Clarke is the Editor-in-Chief of Theatrical Recordings and a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com, Logo TV's NewNowNext.com, Out Magazine's Out.com, and others.