The Mondavi Center — which has been flooding the public lately with messages stating “The Show Will Go On” — wants everyone to know that yes, you can once again see live performances on stage in the elegant Jackson Hall.
Mondavi’s artistic management seems to be particularly proud of the show they are bringing on Friday, January 28 at 7:30 PM, entitled ‘Humans 2.0’. It is a new production by the brave, youthful, upwardly mobile Australian ensemble Circa, internationally known for their dazzling mix of spectacular acrobatic maneuvers on stage.
Their shows are reminiscent of some of the daring air shows you can associate with a traditional circus (or perhaps a particularly athletic modern dance production). They can (and do) build a three-story human tower (with one performer standing on another performer’s shoulders, while simultaneously holding up a third performer) that might be reminiscent of touring Chinese acrobats.
And other moments can bring back memories of impressive gymnastics routines seen on TV during the Olympics. It’s the kind of wiry, spectacular stuff that can be breathtakingly seen live in a darkened theater…but don’t try these moves on your own unless you’ve prepared by doing a lot of conditioning and training first.)
Circa presents these daring theatrical movements together with eye-catching, precise lighting (making clever use of light rays and dim darkness) and mood-enhancing music. ‘Humans 2.0’ features an original 70-minute score composed especially for the show. The seven performers on stage also wear a parade of thematically designed costumes, tailored to each song they perform.
This performance at Mondavi on January 28 will also be one of those ‘triumph over adversity’ events. As Jeremy Ganter, Associate Executive Director of the Mondavi Center, puts it: “We planned to present Circa with ‘Humans 2.0’ during our 20-21 season” – the season that was canceled in its entirety due to the ongoing Covid- pandemic. Ganter added, “We are delighted to finally welcome Circa back to Davis with this extraordinary new work.”
And he is proud that the Mondavi Center has managed to commission Circa to create ‘Humans 2.0’ despite the pandemic. Therefore, the Mondavi Center is organizing the first performance of “Humans 2.0” in North America.
And if you’re thinking, “Gosh, maybe I’ve attended a show of this group Circa before in Mondavi?”… Well, maybe you’re right, because Circa has been on Davis for about 10 years. Circa first returned in 2012 with a spirited matinee aimed at busloads of school groups, aptly titled “61 Circus Acts in 60 Minutes.” That show was warmly received, so Mondavi brought Circa back for another school matinee in 2014 (a program titled “S”).
Circa returned in 2016 with a more versatile show entitled “Beyond”, performed once as a school matinee and then a few more times as an evening presentation aimed at a more mature audience. Circa revisited in 2018 with “Carnival of the Animals,” a family-oriented show that mixed acrobatic moves with the whimsical zoological suite French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote in 1886.
Most recently, Circa Mondavi starred in February 2020 with a program (created in 2017) titled “Humans”, designed for older children and adventurous adults. A strong response from the public prompted the Mondavi Center to follow up on that five-performance brief by commissioning Circa to create a new piece that would be a sort of thematic semi-sequel or the next chapter that comes with “Humans” – “Humans 2.0” would fit.
Of course, when the unexpected coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, the Mondavi Center (and indeed the performing arts in general, worldwide) went into hibernation for about a year and a half. So it took a while for Circa to bring ‘Humans 2.0’ across the Pacific to Davis for a somewhat belated North American premiere. (They’ve led a handful of festival performances of “Humans 2.0” in Australia and Germany in 2021.)
What should Davis’ audiences expect from this new show? Circa describes “Humans 2.0” as both “aesthetic” and “athletic”, with “a tightly woven choreography of bodies” moving across the stage in a production that aims to portray what it’s like to be human in times when this one. The show is recommended for ages 8 and up so it’s best to leave the very young children at home.
(To put it another way, you probably won’t see an artist dressed as a giant white rabbit roaming the stage…) “Humans 2.0” wants to leave you breathless and wondering, “How on earth did they have a can throw the male performers high in the air, then let the other dancers skillfully catch him ‘on the way back.
Tickets range from $65-$37 overall, with youth tickets (under 18) as low as $18.50 on the balcony. Tickets available through MondaviArts.org and at the door. The usual pandemic safety precautions – face masks are required (no cloth masks), and be prepared to show proof of vaccination (a photo of your vaccination card on your smartphone will suffice) and photo ID with the same name as the vaccination booklet.