College of Visual and Performing Arts
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

The Mechanics Behind Cirque

February 12, 2019

Cirque Mechanics on February 22

Cirque Mechanics on February 22

Next weekend, premiere American circus troupe, Cirque Mechanics, presents its unique Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels at the Center. Filled with jaw-dropping feats and “a good bit of clowning around,” this performance will appeal to patrons of-all-ages and artistic tastes. Whether you’re into music, dance or theater, Cirque Mechanics delivers a high-caliber, inventive and memorable performance. We asked Cirque Mechanics Founder and Creative Director Chris Lashua to offer some insight.

Q.: What inspired you to make 42ft - A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels? Why a circus-themed show? 
C.L.: I have been a circus fan my entire life. The circus has gone through a rough patch in the past few years and while we are a contemporary circus company we wanted to pay tribute to this classic art form and Circus... (as all art and entertainment) needs to evolve to remain relevant. This year also marks the 250th anniversary of what we all now call “circus” and at the center of every circus has been the ring… Forty Two feet in diameter to be exact, the ideal measure for a rider to perform tricks while standing on a horses’ back while at a full gallop.

Q.: How many performers are with the group? Where are they from? 
C.L.: We have 12 artists on stage. While most are American we do have one artist from a traditional Russian circus family and two male circus artists from Mongolia.  

Q.: What is your favorite part of this creation?
C.L.: As our shows are about creating mechanical devices that support the acrobats or show off the relationship between “man (or woman) and machine,” my favorite part is in the design and building of these original devices. I then get to work with artists to do acrobatic research, which is also great fun. The “Rosebud,”our mechanical horse, reveal with “rider” Tatiana Vasilenko is our favorite part of the show because it celebrates the important role animals have played in circus history and highlights the machines that make Cirque Mechanics unique, all while serving as a platform to showcase our phenomenal, talented artists.

Q.: What do you think the audience will enjoy the most?  
C.L.: We have a great central character and the audience will enjoy following him as he tries to prove himself worthy of a job in the circus. We also have a high flying acrobatic “Russian Swing” which launches the acrobats 20’ in the air, and a Mongolian Strongman who juggles a telephone pole as if it were a broom stick. 

Chris Lashua, Cirque Mechanics - Creative Director / Founder

Company founder, Chris Lashua was discovered by Cirque du Soleil in 1992, for whom he created and performed a BMX bike and a German Wheel act that were entirely his own, cementing his reputation as a visionary of circus gadgetry. In 2004, his engineering chops and creative energy led him to 'run away' with his own circus company, Cirque Mechanics.  His innovative machines interact with acrobats, dancers, jugglers and contortionists on a 1920's factory floor (Birdhouse Factory), a gold rush era town (Boom Town), accompany world renowned symphonies (Orchestra Project), in a place inspired by his roots in cycling (Pedal Punk) and now, under the “bigtop” in 42ft-A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels.”  Cirque Mechanics has been hailed by The New York Timesas "exceptional, evocative, eye-catching and grossly a word, excellent" and by Spectacle Magazineas “the greatest contribution to American circus since Cirque du Soleil.”

About42ft – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels

42ft in diameter has been the measure of the circus ring for 250 years.  Englishman Philip Astley discovered that horses galloping inside this ring provide the ideal platform for acrobatic feats, these equestrian acrobatics, along with clowns and flyers are a large part of what we’ve all come to know as the circus.  This 250th anniversary of Astley’s circus, inspired Cirque Mechanics to produce a one-ring traditional circus show in their own modern mechanical way.  42ft – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels follows the story of a down and out roustabout filled with wanderlust and enamored with the circus, willing to persevere in order to reach his dream of performing under the big top.  42ft displays life in a tent show by exposing the glamour inside the ring and the vitality of the back lot.  To capture the authenticity of the traditional, Cirque Mechanics has assembled a veritable menagerie of circus acts worthy of the ring, like the strong man, the Russian swing, the trapeze, the ladder, slack wire and juggling. And to celebrate the important role animals have played in circus throughout its history, 42ft features a captivating performer riding on a stunningly life-like mechanical horse!  In 42ft, Cirque Mechanics dares us to let our imagination run away and jump inside this remarkable ring full of the lore, the beauty, the grit and the thrill of the Circus. 

You can view more photos and watch another "behind the scenes" video here.

Cirque Mechanics
42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels
Friday, February 22 at 8 p.m.
Tickets and more information