Circa ensemble’s show, Humans, is something very, very special. Circa ensemble’s description of its show is simple; 10 acrobats take the audience on a journey of what it means to be human. Oh, but it is so much more than that.

On one level, Humans is one of the most exciting, daring, acrobatic circus performances you will ever see. Using no safety equipment, there are enough thrills and dangerously impossible looking stunts to satisfy even the most hardened adrenaline junkie.  The constant gasps, sharp intakes breath, involuntary appeals to the almighty and groans from the tough and cynical Oxford audience was evidence enough that the whole audience was engaged on a very personal level.

On a completely different level, Humans is one of the most beautiful, tragic, riotous and thoughtful explorations of the human condition I have ever seen.  Although the Circa ensemble calls them “acrobats”, the 10 performers are, in reality, dancers whose vocabulary of physical expression is unhindered by any type of physical limitation.  Taking the human body to the extremes of physical expression, the dancer acrobats explored themes of frailty, loss, grief, death, disability, absurdity, cooperation, friendship, loneliness, and love.  The show is utterly engaging for all ages, and indeed, the audience was made up of all ages.

While many circuses use spectacular makeup, costumes and intricate props to wow an audience, Humans made those things look like unnecessary distractions.  Using only the most minimal costumes and almost no props, the Circa ensemble’s 10 acrobats wholly engaged each member of the audience in a personal and intimate way.

Circa’s choice of music to accompany each dance piece was subtle and inspired.  The music enhanced the themes in unexpected ways and the transitions between contrasting pieces was flawless.

At the conclusion of the show the whole audience rose to its feet, instantly and spontaneously, with a standing ovation to thank the young performers who committed to the show so intensely.

The Circa ensemble has raised the bar to an almost impossibly high standard not only for modern circus performances but also for contemporary dance.

The show is in the UK until 17 September.  After that, it is touring to Australia, Italy, Belgium, Romania, France, Hungary and finishes in the USA in January 2020.  If you have the chance, make an effort to go and see this show.  It is the future