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Fun for all ages, every child or child-at-heart will enter a fantastical Victorian Era where top hats and petticoats are mixed with contemporary elements such as human pyramids and juggling, during the two hour, high-energy, extravaganza of dazzling acrobatics, death-defying feats, irreverent humor and rock-n-roll also known as Circus Oz.
The world renown, Australia-based circus is performing at the Mondavi Center in Davis this weekend.
The show "Steampowered" is animal-free and performed by 13 people, one of which is a rigger (person whose job is very heavy lifting), all of whom juggle between different jobs within the chaos of the show, such as being part of the live band, performing acrobatic stunts and helping move props and sets on and off stage.
"It's like watching a sporting team work together, but in the end, the objective is laughter. A small group of people working together can achieve extraordinary things." Circus Oz Artistic Director Mike Finch said.
Understanding what makes it different from other normal circuses is important.
"Define normal," Finch said during a phone interview Monday. "It's different from the great American tradition circus in that it is performed in one ring, and we don't use animals, it's all human performers."
The costume, props and the set resemble the Victorian Era, where everything was steam powered, instead of digital. The performers resemble the era by wearing top hats and petticoats, but at the same time, contemporary aspects include human pyramids, juggling and acrobatics as a cross between the Victorian and contemporary era, Finch said.
The Mondavi Center is the second stop on their USA Tour and it is the only time Circus Oz will be in California this year.
"Circus Oz is capable of doing great circus work on a very large scale with so few people. The sheer magnitude is what's unusual about (Circus Oz). Circus Oz is one of three productions in our annual marvel series we have throughout the year. " Mondavi Center's Associate Executive Director and Director of Programming Jeremy Ganter said.
"Steampowered," which has received critical acclaim from around the world for the last two years, will be put to rest after its USA Tour. A new show, "From the Ground Up," is set to premier in Australia in June 2012.
With "Steampowered" coming into its final showings, Sacramento can expect a show that has all the kinks worked out.
"What you're going to get is the most finely tuned version of the show. The show evolves constantly, the jokes change, the style of the show and the way it connects to the audience change. It evolves like a fine wine or soup boiling over. You're going to get the show in its absolute best form." Finch said.
Before coming to Davis, Circus Oz made its first stop in Salt Lake City. Next, it will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., and Princeton, N. J., before returning to Australia.
According to the Circus Oz website, Circus Oz was founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 1977 and was a combination of two Australian circuses: the Soapbox Circus and the New Circus. Circus Oz's philosophy is based on collective ownership and creation, gender equity, an Australian signature and teamwork.
Circus Oz began in 1978 at a time when people thought of circuses as lions, tigers and red-nosed clowns, Finch said. Circus Oz began as part of a counterculture with live music and putting contemporary ideas back into the circus, such as the feminist movement. Now strong women are in the circus, he added.
Circuses aren't meant to be normal, Finch said. They're meant to inspire creativity and excitement, which includes the talents of many individuals.
As the artistic director, Finch is in charge of many aspects of the show including making the choices on set design, performers, guest directors, casting, guest artists and costume design. His passion, however, is being in charge of something far more important: the art form.
"There's a lot of rules about safety and injury, but aesthetically and creatively anything goes. Art and creativity means you can fly, tumble, use puppetry, and anything else imaginable. Then it is put together under the umbrella of what audiences think of as circuses," Finch said.
A costume contest will be held on Saturday and audience members are encouraged to dress up. According to a Mondavi Center press release, guests may dress as their favorite Steampunk alter-ego, like the Aviator, the Mechanic, the Inventor, the Mad Musician, or Victoriana's Strongest Woman, for a chance to win the grand prize, which has not been announced.
Those who want to enter the costume contest are instructed to check in at the Mondavi Memories Video Booth between 7 and 8 p.m. The grand prize winner will be announced by the ringmaster after the intermission. Everyone in costume is invited to take a group photo with the Circus Oz performers after the show in the lobby.
The lobby doors open at 7 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
General admission tickets are on sale for $25 to $55, current Mondavi Center subscribers can add on this show for $21 to $47 and student admission ranges from $12.50 to $27.50.
The Mondavi Center is located at 9399 Old Davis Road in Davis. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Mondavi Center website by clicking here. For more information about Circus Oz visit its website by clicking here.