La Croix
2 October 2009

Plume, the circus of poets

Plume, le cirque des poètes | La Croix (presse_adp) {JPEG}

With their new creation, Bernard Kudlak and his troop invite you to an idyllic encounter between the circus arts and the old masters of painting.

Some events should not be missed, and Cirque Plume is one of them. It puts in an appearance at a gentle pace: once every two or three years, since it was founded in 1984 by Bernard and Pierre Kudlak, two brothers from Besancon, with their faithful companions always at their sides, like Robert Miny and Brigitte Sepaser, masters of music.
A pioneer of ’new circus’, ’no animals, no glitter, no sequins’, Plume has set out to be a circus of poets. L’atelier du peintre (the artist’s studio) is in the same vein. Taking as a pretext a visit to the museum, Bernard Kudlak and his troop invite us to join them on a delightful journey to the world of painting, where the pictures come to life in time with the music, accompanied by acrobats and jugglers. The painting-within-a-painting of Las Meninas by Velasquez, the odalisques of Ingres rising up out of their swathes of fabric, references to Klein, Soulages, Picasso, etc. are depicted by magical circus acts. Kristina Dniprenko, striking in her red dress, turns somersaults inside her German wheel with a skill that makes one giddy. Tibo Tout Court juggles with five balls, setting the tempo at a demented pace. Laura Smith, looking slender in her flowing gown, jumps up into the air and back down again on a white trampoline that is transformed into a bed of red petals. Not long before, she was playing the part of a lover, suspended in mid-air in a languorous hand-to-hand balancing act supported by a living statue, Mark Piéklo.
Like Chelsea O’Brian (sensual odalisque) and Kristina Dniprenko, Laura Smith comes from Montréal. Was the French circus in such crisis that it had to recruit artistes from the New World? Bernard Kudlak explains:"It’s not the talent of French circus performers that’s in doubt, but their training. The École nationale supérieure de Châlons-en-Champagne doesn’t prepare them to become interpreters, like actors are, or musicians, or dancers. The fact is, they all want to be "auteurs", creating their own shows in charge of their own company. None of them are capable (*) of being part of a troop."
Just one reservation: the misuse of clown-like interludes that slow things down. The show is on for two months at La Villette, it’s in its early stages, so Bernard Kudlak has time to tighten things up…

Didier Méreuze

(*) Reply from Bernard Kudlak:

I don’t recognise myself in Didier Méreuze’s description, when he claims that I said "No pupil from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Châlons-en-Champagne is capable of being part of a troop". I was only referring to the policy followed by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts du Cirque in Châlons-en-Champagne. Moreover, it’s important to point out that Tibo Tout Court came from the Centre des Arts du Cirque Le Lido in Toulouse and Antoine Nicaud from the Fratellini Circus School. In the circus it’s always been the same : the performers come from all over the world.