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Review: A lot of fuss about nothing

DIRECTOR, choreographer and author of the ambitious music-dance show Circus World, Ján Ďurovčík, was explicit at the event's preview: "This is unambiguously a concert, with almost no story. It respects no genre. It's not theatre. It's a concert, it's a show and it's the Rolling Stones."
In case you missed the massive publicity drive, the project has the largest sound system and most spectacular light show ever been built in Slovakia. But it is certainly not a concert. The performers are the dancers and musicians of SĽUK, a professional folk ensemble whose goal is to preserve rich folk-art traditions and present them to a wider audience in a modern way.

DIRECTOR, choreographer and author of the ambitious music-dance show Circus World, Ján Ďurovčík, was explicit at the event's preview: "This is unambiguously a concert, with almost no story. It respects no genre. It's not theatre. It's a concert, it's a show and it's the Rolling Stones."

In case you missed the massive publicity drive, the project has the largest sound system and most spectacular light show ever been built in Slovakia. But it is certainly not a concert. The performers are the dancers and musicians of SĽUK, a professional folk ensemble whose goal is to preserve rich folk-art traditions and present them to a wider audience in a modern way.

It is, however, a show. Not a show of rolling stones - of any type - but one of pouring water, shooting flames and ever-changing costumes. It is a dance, music, acting and light show all wrapped up into one package. Its roots are in traditional folklore and Ďurovčík also throws in a little Gypsy music and modern dance as well. The separate parts of the programme seem to be joined together somewhat unnaturally by an organ grinder's coded narration offering his vision of the world's creation.

Simply, it is a complicated hybrid of everything; a mixture of traditions from various regions and everything else that can be found in today's modern world. The many stories the author thrusts onto the stage don't end up going anywhere. They just fizzle out.

And the result is that the viewer is completely overwhelmed by what he sees. If he opens his eyes and ears wide, his brain is immediately shut down by the deluge of sights and sounds. If his brain refuses to cooperate, then it is exposed to 90 minutes of sheer torture.

The show opens with about 20 dancers performing a lively, unruly acrobatic dance of leg slapping, jumping, and cartwheels done to the fast rhythm of traditional string music. The scene conjures up what the title of the show suggests - a circus world.

The grand opening is then interrupted by the organ grinder's powerful violin and vocal solo, which gives you goose bumps and peaks your interest. This is in complete contrast to the boring solo and duet dances that plague the show. These slow, modern-folk-ballet performances put you to sleep. How you wish that the rest of the dancers would come and join in!

As soon as they do, your senses are revived, but then the dancers promptly disappear, leaving disappointment in their wake. The dancers, as well as the music, change as quickly as the colours and positions of the lights.

What is the real goal of this show? To over-entertain or to prove that even a circus can be boring?

Whenever the dancing or music truly begins to shine, it is abruptly suppressed by expensive and overbearing effects. One of the highlights of the show is a large group dancing while playing the spoons. In contrast were such downers as a clumsy duet by dancers in pig costumes (performing a dance based on one of the seven deadly sins). There is such a thing as overdoing it.

Ďurovčík's soup has too many ingredients. And they resonate like a handful of stones rolling around inside your head.

Circus World dance show will be staged at the Istropolis cinema, Trnavské mýto in Bratislava on November 26, 27 and 28.

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