Duck Pond: Acrobatics Meet Avian Antics!

Duck Pond Rating

Click if you liked this article


Pirouettes, waddles, and aerial feats – bodies defying gravity and whimsy taking flight. Circa Contemporary Circus presents ‘Duck Pond’, a fusion of fairy tales that redefines the boundaries of creativity and ruffles a few feathers. It’s not a circus, not pure dance, but unapologetically surrealistic and offbeat.

Yaron Lifschitz reimagines elements of Swan Lake and The Ugly Duckling with physical theatre, circus arts, and contemporary dance to retell a timeless tale of love, self-discovery, and acceptance. While Circa’s distinctively idiosyncratic approach results in a visually appealing show, it doesn’t always hit the sweet spot in adding depth and cohesion. It’s a conundrum – an experience that’s both refreshingly unconventional and bizarre in some choices. The show comprises three distinct performances pooled into one: kinetic spectacle, clowning, and a puzzling postmodern coda.

The stage itself is a masterful design element, a vast and versatile expanse bound by a curtain that wraps around three sides. Beautifully lit, its ribbons part, permitting seamless entrances and exits from all angles, accentuating the silhouette of black and white costumes. Ten outstanding artists carry the show with an impressive display of skill and endurance. Managing to execute challenging acrobatic choreography with precision and grace. United in their commitment, they demonstrate the power of trust and collaboration, integrating agility with lovely dramatic flair.

The best moments were when time felt suspended. Sophie Seccombe, a talented acrobat, mesmerised audiences with her exquisite adagio skills, gracefully transitioning from ‘The Ugly Duckling’ to ‘White Swan’ and culminating in a beautifully executed swan dive. Asha Colless, as the enchanting Fairy Swan Mother, brought grace and majesty to the stage, her impressive power and skill shone through in her captivating acrobatic performance.

The aerial silks routine, performed by three men, was full of air and floating vastness. The blue silks swung rhythmically, twirling them through the space. With strength and precision, they performed daring drops and releases. It ended all too soon. Kimberley Rossi, as the Black Swan Aerialist, delivered a breathtaking ropes performance. Harmonising her movements with the melody, creating a memorable fusion of sound and motion.

This was a hypnotising moment before the abrupt chaos that followed: a 5-minute stripping of the floor and stage in full view of the audience, merely to bring on stage a huge TV screen displaying swans fighting, a hoops act, and the cast showing skin while posing inside lit boxes on wheels. The story then had to work uphill to return to the lake and Tchaikovsky’s score, which would have been the perfect ending after the Black and White Swan pas de deux. Instead, this false ending and flight of fancy killed the atmosphere.

The brilliant soundscape, created by Jethro Woodward, is a testament to the power of music in elevating storytelling. It was a singular audio experience in its transportive mix of modern percussive, music hall nostalgia, and the otherworldly. Incorporating elements of well-known fragments of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’, it infused a touch of the fantastical, perfectly punctuating and underscoring the action. The remix of ‘Dance of the Cygnets’ was a fabulous adaptation to accompany a very amusing duck dance, while other musical moments whisked the audience away to a realm both familiar and strange.

Circa is Australia’s answer to Cirque du Soleil, and “Duck Pond” serves up circus avant-garde with a side of Vegas flair, which should please audiences expecting the wow factor. However, the combination of dramatic and absurd did not consistently mesh. Less could have been more. It would benefit from refining the narrative structure to bring home the denouement.

This production shines brightest when it pauses to breathe and allows the simplicity of effortless skill and stillness to blend, holding space for the audience, conveying powerful moments of fluidity and trust for the story to speak for itself.

See for information on the dates of the Circa tour.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

Spread the word on your favourite platform!