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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
September 28, 2018

Get to Know MACHINE DE CIRQUE


The unmatched chemistry in Machine de Cirque didn't happen overnight. In fact, it took more than a year for all of the pieces to fall into place. Although founded in Quebec City, this Canadian company traces their origins back to 2012, at an event for Cirque du Soleil in Argentina, where Max Laurin, Yohann Trépanier, Raphaël Dubé and Ugo Dario were hanging out after a show. As they discussed their various projects, they realized that they could create an exceptional piece of circus together.

MACHINE DE CIRQUE Acrobats
Maxim Laurin, Yohann Trépanier, Raphaël Dubé and Ugo Dario

Performer Ugo Dario says, "When we first started talking about working together, we were all so inspired! But we had to hold off on our plans, because we were each committed to other projects at the time. Maxim and I were working on the show Sequence 8 with the 7 Fingers company and Yohann and Raphaël were travelling as a duo called Les Beaux Frères." Fast forward one year later to 2013: after finishing their run with Sequence 8, Maxim and Ugo gave Raphaël and Yohann a call. "As luck would have it, Raphaël's brother Vincent wanted to start a circus company—it was perfect timing." Ugo says. "And thus, the Machine de Cirque company was born!"

"At first we had to figure out how to collaborate with one another. We all have very strong personalities, but, after learning more about each other, the process felt completely organic!" says Yohann Trépanier. What made their collaboration click was trust. Yohann continues, "We believed that everyone's ideas were worth a try, and no one was too deeply attached to their own concepts. We learned pretty quickly that if we didn't listen to each other, we'd never accomplish anything."

For the four acrobats of Machine de Cirque, circus has proven to be a rewarding, and at times trying career path. The biggest obstacles aren't the death defying flips or awe-inspiring tricks, it's the less-glamorous parts that can be a challenge. For instance, Raphaël shares, "A lot of people don't realize that you need a good head for business. Most circus performers are self-employed workers who provide a service for a company. You need to know how to manage your finances, how to network and how to sell yourself. It really is a full-time job!"

"It's hard to explain to people the breadth of disciplines involved in contemporary circus," Raphaël continues. In addition to business acumen, performers have to be acrobats, clowns, dancers, actors and experts in their own specialized skills. For instance, not only does Raphaël flip and fly off the Chinese pole, but he also is an expert juggler (and acrobat, comedian and unicyclist).

On top of all of this, there's the very real and present danger of a missed catch or a poorly timed landing. "This is something younger performers sometimes forget," he says. "The risk is real! If you stay out late every night on tour, you'll get tired and slip up at the wrong moment. It's important to know and understand your limits, both on the stage and off."

So, why pick such a demanding field? It's about the joy of performance. Maxim explains, "Whenever we perform, I hope our audience forgets their troubles and fears, even if it's just for a moment. I hope that watching our show reminds them of how life can be precious and full of laughter."

Join Max, Yohann, Raphaël and Ugo at Machine de Cirque as they swing high above the stage, bike upside-down and fly off teeterboards to a live musical soundscape by percussionist Frédéric Lebrasseur. 
Posted by Beth Henderson

The performers of Machine de Cirque are building a contraption to communicate with the outside world, but their wacky stunts and daring tricks distract them from the task. Get your tickets to see this quirky crew of daredevils here!

In this Family Activity, you and your family will build a simple machine before the show, practice some contact juggling on your way and deepen your understanding through a post-show game and discussion. 
 

At Home
Machine de Cirque combines circus and technology. The five performers work together to make a machine that works, while adding in a good amount of fun. In this activity, create your very own machine.
 

Materials: Six or seven popsicle sticks (depending on size), seven rubber bands, one spoon, one small item

Step One: Gather your materials. Then, bundle four to five popsicle sticks together with a rubber band on either end.

Step Two: Use a rubber band to tie two more popsicle sticks together on one end only. You should be able to separate them on the opposite end. Place your bundle of four or five inbetween the two popsicle sticks.

Step Three: Secure these two pieces together with two rubber bands crisscrossed in the center.

Step Four: Attach a spoon to the top popsicle stick, above the center crisscross rubber band. Attach the spoon with two more rubber bands. 

Step Five: You now have a catapult! Place an object into the spoon, press down and RELEASE.

Step Six: What are some other items you can catapult? Try a marshmallow, a tiny rolled up paper ball, a bean or anything small enough to fit into the spoon.

Bonus: Challenge your family!
  • Can someone catch the small catapulted item?
  • Can you aim your object into a bucket, cup or trash can?
  • Can you play a game of catapult catch with a partner and their own machine?

On Your Way
The folks of Machine de Cirque are also skilled jugglers. One form of juggling that they practice is contact juggling, or manipulating an object while it's in contact with their bodies. In this activity, explore ways you can practice the skill of contact juggling on your way to the theater!

Materials: A paper rolled up into a ball that fits into the palm of your hand

Step One: Make your paper ball.

Step Two: Place your paper ball between your hands, with your palms facing down. Then, try to catch the paper ball as you flip your hands (your palms should now face up). See how many times you can do this in a row. Ask your family and friends to give it a try.
 

Step Three: How can you level this up? Toss it to your feet? Try it with one hand? We tried tossing the ball from our elbow and catching it.
 

BONUS: You will see the performers of Machine de Cirque do contact juggling with hats. Are you wearing a hat today? Try it out!
 
Hat Juggling

After the Show
Once you've seen Machine de Cirque, answer these questions and try this activity inspired by the show:
  • Machine de Cirque centers around technology. If you made a circus, what acts would you include?
  • Which chores would you like to be easier? What kind of machine would you make to help with these tasks?
  • What would you do if all technology and machines disappeared? Think of  how you get ready in the morning and how you travel to work or school. How would your routine change?
The performers of Machine de Cirque create games and challenges with anything they can find. In this activity, create your very own game with things you can find in your home. 




Materials: Small objects that can act as game pieces, one piece of paper, something to write with

Step One: Create your board, making sure there is a start and an end. Create different shapes for games spaces that create a path from the start to the finish.

Step Two: Each player selects a small item to use as their game piece.

Step Three: Brainstorm challenges you can write in each board game space. Here is a list of some of our favorites, but don’t forget to create your own.
  • Contact juggle a cookie with your face!
  • Blow a cup to the finish line.
  • Stack pennies on your elbow to make the tallest tower!
  • Draw off—who can draw the machine from Machine de Cirque first?
HINT: Think of challenges where someone has to finish first.

The person who successfully completes the mini challenge moves forward. The first person to get to the end wins the game. 

And Beyond
Here are some ways to continue your Machine De Cirque journey out in the world.
 
Machine de Cirque Thumb Making mayhem of their scrap metal set with a live percussive soundscape, this quirky crew of daredevils sure knows how to manufacture endless comedic madness. Get your tickets to Machine de Cirque today!
 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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