Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Joy of Circus, The Rising Value of Monaco -- Why Doesn't PBS Pick This Up?

Gold to the Duo Shcherba-Popov from Princess Stephanie, right, and Prince Albert, left. 

They are hip. They are cool.  They are dancerly.  They are very personal, wearing their own faces, not masks.  In total, the kind of an act that makes you a believe all over again in the sheer joy of circus art.

They landed the Gold Clown at the recent Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, along with one other winner -- the Bejing Acrobatic Troupe.

They are two Ukrainian fellows, the Duo Shcherba-Popov, who brought off a remarkably fluid and choreographed  routine [I'd call it acrobatic equilibristics]  to a tune from the Great American Songbook, "Singin' in the Rain," from the soundtrack of the movie starring Gene Kelly.  The resulting impression is a glorious, quite personalized display.   Here is Liz Arratoon, reviewing the event in London's The Stage, describing  the act in detail:

"It [the display of juggler Alexander Koblikov] may be a hard act to follow but hand-to-hand duo Shcherbak and Popov are more than up to the task. Again they have characterized their act beautifully, while keeping the skill level sky high. Set to Singin’ in the Rain, they perform as Depression-era sparring workmen and create the most staggering display of holds and balances, including head-in-hand, head-to-head and spread-eagle planches. To finish, Nikolay does a one-arm handstand on the back of Sergey’s neck, while he is balanced on his hands. This high-standard act is the sort you long for and the jury awards it one of two Gold Clowns."

Monte Carlo: Best Kept Secret in the Entertainment World?

They are also a reason why I have such profound respect for the Monte Carlo Circus Festival.  I realize, of course, the festival may not be a perfect selector of talent. What is perfect?  On balance, it certainly seems to honor the highest achievements, no matter where they come from. Naturally, opinions are going to differ. For instance, juggler Alexander Koblikov, who works with ten balls successfully, and is working on 14 (not so lucky) landed a Silver Clown, was deemed the "best act" at the festival by Arratoon.

A true global reach -- as far away as North Korea

Talent from the far corners of the world as well!  I did not know, until learning that a North Korean act had been awarded a Gold or Silver Clown a year or so ago, that North Korea was even into circus at all.

The entire Festival generates competitive inspiration world wide, and thus gives many nations (China, certainly at the forefront, seen her receiving yet another Gold Clown) the additional incentive to strive to be the greatest. When I was in Beijing and interviewed Chinese acrobatics scholar Tain Run Min, he told me that much.

Where is PBS? 

Good grief, Pledge Break Society hauls out, over and over again, every last over-the-hill rock and roll act known to man.  They give a platform and a shill audience to all manner of self-help gurus. They televise  competition ballroom dancing, no less. The televised a rather dreary behind-the-scenes look at Big Apple Circus.  They've stitched together footage of Cirque du Soliel acts from Vegas.  So, why not a few hours from the annual Monte Carlo Circus Festival?  Who's to blame -- PBS, or a tone-deaf PR department in the land where Princess Stephanie holds court?  This best-of-the-world circus showcase cries out, screams out for PBS coverage.    Is anybody there?  Is anybody listening? Does anybody but me even care?

You can watch Duo Shcherba-Popov at:

My thanks to Jack Ryan for sending me the link, also the photo of the duo.

Princess Stephanie, center, with daughter Pauline, left, and son-in-law Louis Ducret. The circus world is lucky to have such generous, such glamorous, and such devoted attention and support. 

first posted 2.3.13

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