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Cirque Éloize: Nebbia

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Jeannot Painchaud, co-founder of Cirque Éloize, states that the pre-creation process for circus arts takes a year to a year-and-a-half. Then the troupe and crew spend “six months in the studios” preparing sets and costumes, and rehearsing. Keeping within Painchaud’s timeline, it has been since April 2007 that Cirque Éloize has traveled through Salt Lake City. They had performed Rain, the second installment in The Sky Trilogy — written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca.  Finally, this May, the troupe returns to Kingsbury Hall with the final chapter, called Nebbia, of Pasca’s intimate story.

Drawn from Pasca’s childhood, the trilogy opened with Nomade in 2001, a journey of an “endless sky,” reflecting on different cultures and celebrations. And then came Rain, encouraging us to embrace whatever comes from the sky, “sun or rain … but unexpected things [too]: messages, signs, promises.” Now in the final chapter, Nebbia, Italian for fog, Pasca remembers from his childhood, “The fog would float down …  I’d watch as lovers chased after one another, I’d see camels, elephants, soldiers returning from war. Once I even saw myself float by. I was all grown up, driving a red car. It was often, or should I say always, a carnival … .”


Painchaud adds that Nebbia is about not seeing clearly, but then embracing “your buddy” and meeting friends.

“It’s about nostalgia,” he also adds.

Cirque Éloize formed in 1993 and according to Painchaud what is special about the troupe is that they pay “big attention to the casting” of the performers. They search for artists with multiple talents or at minimum who are not afraid to “explore all of their talents.” For instance, the company finds great quality in the young artists of Montreal’s National Circus School, a 25-year-old institution, of which Painchaud is also an alumnus. The school has “in the past three years offered new classes like dance and theatre.” There are also voice teachers to help the students with their vocal range. There are many other circus schools around the globe — in Europe, South America, Australia and in the United States — from which the troupe scouts.

n Nebbia, 11 performers (of seven nationalities) are on stage at any given time, but “seems like 15 or 20” because they are doing many things together. There are jugglers, and hand-to-hand, trapeze, trampoline and aerial artists. The entire group sings and acts and play instruments, including the flute, violin and flugelhorn. Also, a new apparatus device, created by Daniel Cyr, called the Star, is introdcued in this, the final chapter. And of course, there has to be a clown.

“it’s like writing a theatre piece,” says Painchaud. “With a theme. And we’re talking about dance and music. Some people would say we’re ‘close to a musical’ and some would say we’re ‘acrobatic theatre.’”

Painchaud believes the success of Cirque Éloize comes from their French-Canadian-roots culture “crossed together” with American and European culture. He also says, “If you were to ask Daniele [Finzi Pasca], he’d say ‘it’s like in a kitchen; if you have the right ingredients, the right spice and if you give it the right amount of love and attention’ it’ll be a success.”

Cirque Éloize: Nebbia performs May 2 at 2 p.m. and 7:30pm, Kingsbury Hall, 1395 S. Presidents Cir., UofU. Tickets $19–45.50, 801-581-7100 or

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