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Q&A: ‘Réversible’ showcases family history through contemporary circus



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"Reversible," a new production from a circus company who brought "Traces" to IU Auditorium, will come to Bloomington on April 2-3. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

The Montreal-based circus company The 7 Fingers will return to Bloomington for the performance of its newest production “Réversible” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the IU Auditorium. The show is dedicated to the generation that paved the way for the modern world, so the eight performers dug through their family history to uncover stories that were used to create the performance.

The Indiana Daily Student spoke with circus artist and “Réversible” performer Jérémi Lévesque.

Responses have been shortened for brevity and clarity.

IDS: How did you get into acrobatics?

JL: I started out with acrobatics when I was about 13. There was a small acrobatic gym next to my high school to which I was going with my friends every night after school. I started training there just for fun, doing mostly parkour and trampoline and all of that. I did that for a few years, and then I got into cheerleading for about three or four years. A friend of mine who did circus school in Montreal told me that I should do the auditions for this circus school in Montreal. I tried out, and I got in, and that’s how I started doing circus and more stage performance like theater and dance.

How long have you been with The 7 Fingers?

It’s been almost three years. We started the creation of this show “Réversible” in the summer of 2016. Right when I was finishing the circus school in Montreal, they hired me and four other people from my year at the circus school to do this show.

“Réversible” is about the stories of the past generations, so what stories from your family did you contribute to the performance?

We all talked about that with our individual families. With me, I did go more into the story of my grandmother on my mother’s side, who I didn’t know was struggling with depression for most of her life due to religion. She was always very religious and very scared of the consequences that the Catholic church was imposing to certain behaviors. I learned that she was struggling with that for most of her life and even had to go to a psychiatric hospital and got shock therapy to try and fight depression. I never knew because most of my life my grandmother was a very happy, caring woman, and that’s a side of her that I never knew about.

How does it feel to be able to incorporate your family history into this performance?

I think it’s a beautiful opportunity that we’re given. Every night when we’re about to do the show, even if it’s a night where it’s a little harder to get in the mood to do the show, just thinking about the fact that the show represents something so much bigger than ourselves is always very inspiring and always a good motivation to keep performing and keep presenting that to other people. In any case, it’s important for the audience to see themselves in those performances and think about their family histories.

What is the biggest challenge you face as an acrobat?

Some could say injury is always something that we have to be careful with, just taking care of our own bodies and making sure that we can keep performing in a safe way. But more than that, I guess the biggest difficulty as a circus artist in a contemporary circus context is just finding the right ways to use acrobatics to serve a story and serve a purpose and not only to do it for the sake of doing a trick but using it as vocabulary to tell the story.

What impact does “Réversible” seek to make on an audience?

One of the priorities of the company, The 7 Fingers, was always to hold up a mirror in front of the audience for them to see themselves through the performance. It’s to show that we’re not only acrobats, but we’re also humans with stories.

What is your favorite place you’ve performed on this tour so far?

That’s hard to say, we’ve been to a lot of places. For me, we went to Bergen in Norway and it was a big highlight because it was a beautiful place to perform at. Also, performing in my hometown Montreal was a big deal for all of my family to see the show and see what my work actually is. We’ve been to a lot of places now so it’s hard to put a finger on which one was really better.

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