Cirque de Lycée, a joint show put on by Durango Aerial Arts & Acrobatics and The Durango Circus, not only depicts high school life – the name of the show means “high school circus” in French – but also a similar period in the growth of the two companies.
The show, May 10 and 11 at the Powerhouse Science Center, is the second spring showcase and fundraiser for the educational program. The eventual goal is to build a circus school in Durango, said Elle Carpenter-Hockett, the founder of both companies and artistic director of The Durango Circus.
The program currently shares a space with Durango Gymnastics, “which is awesome,” she said. “But we can’t really grow.”
A new space would accommodate both education and performances – the circus equivalent of a black box theater. Ideally, it would also give touring groups from outside the area a place to stop and perform, she said.
“I want people to have access to go see a circus,” Carpenter-Hockett said. Growing up in New England, she would get to see the circus every summer, but that doesn’t happen in Durango or the Four Corners, to the detriment of the culture of the region, she said.
“While there are a lot of tourists who come here ... there are also a lot of people, like me, raising young children here and people who just love Durango,” she said. “Those are the people I’m really aiming to serve.”
In the meantime, audiences can see another school brought to life from the imagination of the performers. Cirque de Lycée is an all-ages, three-ring circus-style show with performers ages 7 to adult. It will feature an original story set in a familiar environment.
“People have kind of created their own characters, and we’ve given them their own setting and turned it into a joke on high school,” Carpenter-Hockett said. “That gives everyone room to pick what they want to make fun of ... or what they want to be serious about.”
Some of the performers have songs that are a little more serious, she said, but at the same time, the school nurse is a witch.
“The storyline comes around and all makes sense in the end, and there’s some good morality in there,” she said.
There’s also some adult-oriented content to entertain the grown-up sector of the audience – it’s not “a total kid-show, Carpenter-Hockett said.
The types of performances on display will include aerial apparatus-based acrobatics such as silks, ropes, lyras and trapezes; ground acrobatics; juggling; unicycle; clowning; and live music. The theme of the show was chosen in early spring, and the performers have been rehearsing since mid-March.