Author: Adam Goldstein

“Zephyr” blends renewable energy and acrobatics

The primal power of nature is the main draw behind “Zephyr,” the new touring show from the Las Vegas-based Cirque Mechanics troupe.

A massive windmill is the centerpiece for the company’s latest production on CU Boulder’s Artist Series, a show that purposefully explores the majesty, mystery and unharnessed potential of the natural world. The hand-crafted windmill operates at the center of the entire production; it’s the driving force from a troupe known for its gadgetry and technical know-how.

“Zephyr” features all of the signature elements of Cirque Mechanics’ signature approach to circus, from aerial feats to physical comedy to death-defying stunts. It’s a menu of circus-based expertise that has become a familiar draw on the Boulder campus. Cirque Mechanics has visited the university as part CU Presents’ Artist Series twice before, with distinct shows that feature a combination of contraptions, acrobatics and physical comedy.

All of these elements – some thoroughly modern, some that recall the golden age of European and American circus – will all be a part of “Zephyr.” For all its thematic focus, Cirque Mechanics is still a company that revels in the sheer silliness and majestic wonder that’s marked the art form for generations. Still, the windmill remains as the central feature and primary driver of the action, a complex piece of stagecraft that literally spurs the action and stands in for deeper themes about humankind’s relationship to the environment. “Humans have been harnessing the power of the wind for thousands of years,” Cirque Mechanics creative leaders explained. “(That) inspired the creative team at Cirque Mechanics to create Zephyr, a theatrical circus show that harnesses human power, instead of wind, to generate an energetic acrobatic experience.”

The creative brass hope that the dynamics of the show will hint at deeper, ecological messages, specifically about the potential of motion and energy to reframe how the audience conceptualizes the modern power grid. They’re touting the production as an “exhilarating tale about our choices for the planet and its resources,” a creative direction that aligns with another gathering bound for the campus in early December.

That’s when CU Boulder, along with United Nations Human Rights and Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance will co-host the Global Climate Summit, a gathering that examines climate change, its human and societal impacts and proposed solutions. The event will stream virtually, and will feature experts in the field from across the world.

Before that very serious and focused view on issues facing every inhabitant of planet Earth lands in Boulder, Cirque Mechanics will get the discussion started with an ingenious piece of human invention and plenty of timeless, circus-based wonder.

“Zephyr” takes place on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Artist Series in Macky Auditorium.