Ever since the dawn of the Iron Age, the mechanical world has sparked the imagination and inspired humankind with its tantalizing potential.

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This article was published 13/5/2016 (2198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ever since the dawn of the Iron Age, the mechanical world has sparked the imagination and inspired humankind with its tantalizing potential.

It’s also given rise to Cirque Mechanics, a "nouveau circus" founded in 2004 by Boston native and German Wheel artist Chris Lashua that rolled into town this weekend to close the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Pops series — and its entire season.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A performer in the Cirque Mechanics turns his body into a human set of spokes as he spins on a large hoop at WSO Friday night. The show combines combines acrobats, aerialists, trapeze artists, contortionists and an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” with music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, and Ravel at WSO Friday evening.</p><p>Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by German wheel artist Chris Lashua and with its innovative mechanical staging and inspiring storytelling.</p><p>May 13, , 2016</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A performer in the Cirque Mechanics turns his body into a human set of spokes as he spins on a large hoop at WSO Friday night. The show combines combines acrobats, aerialists, trapeze artists, contortionists and an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” with music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, and Ravel at WSO Friday evening.

Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by German wheel artist Chris Lashua and with its innovative mechanical staging and inspiring storytelling.

May 13, , 2016

Friday night’s show, led with the greatest of ease by WSO resident conductor Julian Pellicano, featured the seven-member circus troupe performing a concoction of storytelling, acrobatics, and clowning in the shadows of the show’s other star, a ginormous, 6.7-metre aluminum arch that framed the performers’ mechanically inclined tricks and treats like an industrial-sized proscenium arch.

After a sprightly appetizer of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, the multi-generational audience was given its first taste of the troupe as they flipped over chairs and performed backward handsprings in opening number Mechanical Circus I: Charivari.

Then it was all eyes up as a female contortionist twisted her lithe body into a myriad of pretzel shapes on a circular platform attached to the metal arch, accompanied by Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant defunte.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A contortionist performs on the top of an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” while performing in the Cirque Mechanics at WSO Friday night. The show combines combines acrobats, aerialists, trapeze artists, contortionists and an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” with music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, and Ravel at WSO Friday evening.</p><p>Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by German wheel artist Chris Lashua and with its innovative mechanical staging and inspiring storytelling.</p><p>May 13, , 2016</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A contortionist performs on the top of an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” while performing in the Cirque Mechanics at WSO Friday night. The show combines combines acrobats, aerialists, trapeze artists, contortionists and an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” with music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, and Ravel at WSO Friday evening.

Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by German wheel artist Chris Lashua and with its innovative mechanical staging and inspiring storytelling.

May 13, , 2016

And yes, they also sent in the clowns: not your typical, red-nosed buffoons of traditional circuses past, but nattily bow-tied violinists whose fiddles crumble, errant music stands stray and who think nothing of balancing towering stacks of cubes on their chins, nor effortlessly juggling balls and hats in mid-air.

The show also cleverly integrated WSO concertmaster and ever-good sport Gwen Hoebig, who performed the blazing Summer solo from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons while the clown — now morphed into triangle virtuoso — patiently waits for his cue only to get the last ting.

During the lyrical Waltz from Serenade for Strings, two female acrobats performed a series of gravity-defying tricks, including hanging upside down from a spinning giant tricycle suspended from the grid before rolling off into the proverbial sunset.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A contortionist performs on the top of an 5.5-metre pedal-powered ‘Gantry Crane’ in the Cirque Mechanics show Friday night. The show combines combines acrobats, aerialists, trapeze artists, contortionists and an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” with music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, and Ravel at WSO Friday evening.</p><p>Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by German wheel artist Chris Lashua and with its innovative mechanical staging and inspiring storytelling.</p><p>May 13, , 2016</p></p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A contortionist performs on the top of an 5.5-metre pedal-powered ‘Gantry Crane’ in the Cirque Mechanics show Friday night. The show combines combines acrobats, aerialists, trapeze artists, contortionists and an 18-foot, pedal-powered “Gantry Crane” with music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Copland, and Ravel at WSO Friday evening.

Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by German wheel artist Chris Lashua and with its innovative mechanical staging and inspiring storytelling.

May 13, , 2016

An early show highlight was seeing a male soloist spin a large white hoop, only then to perfectly balance his splayed body within its orb accompanied by excerpts of Bizet’s Carmen. In today’s high-tech age of gizmos and gadgets, this quietly potent act’s sheer beauty and simplicity stirred.

We were also given a variation in the second half, with a female acrobat suspended from a rotating hoop during Anitra’s Dance from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, that showcased both her agility — and nail-biting fearlessness. This morphed into a palate-cleanser of the Chinese Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, before swinging into Strauss II’s Voices of Spring that saw a strongman shimmy and support his body from a pole, his brute physical strength and control eliciting the loudest cheers of the night.

The stylish show is visually appealing with its geometry of circular wheels and hoops matched by stark angles and grids. But this is also a sexy circus evoking decadent cabaret of the 1930s, with its retro-styled costumes both evocative and functional. It’s also at its best with the (too few) group numbers that provide the most spectacular bang for the buck.

As expected, the audience leaped to its feet in a rousing standing ovation for the circus performers, no doubt dreaming of running off and joining a troupe of their own.

The show repeats tonight, 8 p.m. with a Sunday 2 p.m. matinee at the Centennial Concert Hall.

holly.harris@shaw.ca

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