Notifications

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

Dubbed "the most respected—and the most brilliant—hip-hop choreographer in America" by The New Yorker, Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris reigns supreme in his hometown of Philadelphia. This June, he brings his latest world premiere, Rennie Harris: Funkedified, to the New Vic stage!

We sat down with Rennie and a few Funkedified dancers from his company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, to talk about the power and joy of movement and his mission to bring street dance to the world.

In between visiting "as many block parties as possible and dancing all night," Rennie Harris began teaching at universities around the country at just 15-years-old. Since then, he’s dedicated his life to preserving and presenting street dance as a legitimate art form. While breaking the stereotypes and expectations of what hip-hop culture can be, Harris has received two honorary doctorates, founded two dance companies and created Philadelphia’s annual Illadelph Legends of Hip-Hop Festival.

Funkedified Cast

The power of dance is a tangible thing in the world of Rennie Harris. His original work encompasses the diverse and rich African American traditions of the past, while presenting the voice of a new generation through an ever-evolving interpretation of dance. In choreographing he says, “I'm always chasing the feeling of freedom I get when I dance or when I choreograph a new piece,” and he aims to bring that sense of empowerment to others. 

Phil Cuttino Jr., who joined Rennie Harris Puremovement in 2012, emphasizes that dance has, "helped me learn about myself as a human, as a man, as a son and as a leader." Puremovement's Tatiana Desardouin adds, "[Dance] helps me discover new things about myself as a confident woman."

Throughout his impressive body of work, there's one continuous thread—spreading the word of hip-hop and street dance throughout the country. Since their founding, his two eminent companies, Rennie Harris Puremovement (New Vic 1999, 2004, 2015, 2018) and Rennie Harris RHAW (New Vic 2013), have taken center stage. Puremovement was born in 1992 to "re-educate [the public] about hip-hop and its culture through artistic work, lecture demonstrations and discussions."

Puremovement and Funkedified dancer Ricky "Glytch" Evans feels especially drawn to its core mission. He says, "My favorite thing about being a dancer is the ability to inspire others. Whether it's through teaching or performing, dance makes me feel something special, no matter how I'm engaging with it. It's a gift to positively affect the emotions of those around me by doing something that I love."

Funkedified Cast

Though thrilled with Puremovement's success, Rennie saw a problem quickly develop. Many talented young artists were lining up to audition—too many, in fact. They didn’t quite have the level of professionalism needed to join his flagship company. So, in 2007, he created a solution—RHAW (Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works).

Initially conceived as a youth organization, driven by community outreach and education, RHAW has evolved into a training program to "forge new paths for young hip-hop hopefuls, and present hip-hop in its 'RHAW-est' forms." Often, those "young hip-hop hopefuls" transfer from RHAW to Rennie Harris Puremovement. There, the students become the educators and inspire a new generation of dancers. 

Outside of his companies, Rennie tries to reach the world...by simply educating it! A professor at over 11 universities (and counting), he’s inspired dancers all over the country in the classroom. Puremovement’s Leigh Foaad recalls, "My wife snuck me into Rennie's class at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), for two years. Then, I was invited to his annual festival, Illadelph, and was asked to join RHAW. Soon, I became a member of Rennie Harris Puremovement."

For Rennie’s fifth visit to the New Vic, he wanted to bring something special, a look back on his own coming of age in Philadelphia. This is a brand new work that’s not only entertaining, but reframes an artform that’s commonly dismissed as just "subway entertainment." Funkedified is a celebration of funk, through and through, but more importantly it’s a celebration of Rennie’s evolution as a dancer, choreographer and educator, set to the tune of the music that echoed through his childhood and inspired him to first learn to pop, lock and break!
 
 
Funkedified Thumb Get on up with Rennie Harris Puremovement! Inspired by the soundtrack of his youth—Soul Train on the TV and James Brown on the radio—Rennie Harris celebrates all that is funk in the world premiere of Funkedified. Get your tickets today!
 
Posted by Beth Henderson
 |<  < 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10  >  >|