Inspired by Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, Circo de la Luna is a circus journey that incorporates flamenco, aerial moon, tissù and lyra, contortion, clowning and boleadoras. We caught up with creator Amanda Topaz to talk about the show and the transcendent nature of movement.
How did you come to be an aerial performer?
I’m trained as a classical dancer first and when I was in college, I trained with a Russian trapeze coach from the Big Apple Circus. After college, I had a job at a non-government organization but I eventually left to join the circus.
Was there a specific moment where you were performing and you knew this was what you were supposed to do with your life?
I suppose when I felt more appreciated in the circus than I did at my day job. It’s great to make people happy. I don’t know if there was a particular moment but I kept getting more and more work. It’s hard to resist when people are happy and inspired and you know you’re doing something good for them.
As someone who has worked all over the world, how have you seen that performance can be a universal language?
How can it not be? Movement, dance and circus make everyone smile. It transcends any language barrier. Every country has some form of dance and acrobatics. It’s a universal language and it’s nice to share in what other cultures do in their country and compare notes with what we do in ours.
What are you most excited about concerning Circo de la Luna?
It actually has to do with the language barrier thing. When I first met Sonio Olla and Ismael Fernandez, watching them perform blew my mind. The connection they had with each other and with the audience – I knew I had to work with them. When I was asked to create a show for them, I knew I wanted to combine American circus with flamenco. It’s so fun watching all of it together.
How do you keep challenging yourself as an artist?
By creating new pieces and new shows. After so many years, you have to challenge yourself or you will get really bored. It’s about finding the new thing that excited you and about going back to the drawing board. Creating this new show has been challenging.
In what ways?
The language barrier within the cast is the first challenge. When we aren’t practicing together, we have to communicate verbally and the languages are different. Also, all of these performers are accomplished and have been working for years. But really the challenge has been communicating my ideas. I’m not used to the spoken and written part of creating a show so trying to explain my idea in a written form has been challenging. I’m excited to get the show up and really show people what it is.
What other forms of art inspire you?
Architecture and ceilings inspire me. I love the drama of the opera and the sets of opera productions. In New York City, there’s so much input everywhere. The museums, the shows, specifically the Morgan Library is so beautiful and there’s always something interesting happening there.