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Compagnie XY and the Roundhouse present

Le Grand C


Compagnie XY


Choreographed by Compagnie XY, Abdeliazide Senhadji and Loïc Touze




April 17 – 24, 2010








A review by James Richards for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Thirty feet above the Roundhouse stage, a slim young woman seems to slide up the back of her colleague to take her place on his shoulders. The auditorium is absolutely silent – four hundred people on the edge of their seat watch, the latest in a series of daring and dangerous stunts from French circus performers Compagnie XY, jaws on the floor. Supporting the girl, her colleague is a picture of stony concentration; his feet are likewise planted on the shoulders of another man, equally stony, who wobbles under the strain. Under him, at the foundations of this human tower, sweat pouring off his brow, a powerfully built man with large whiskers carries all three of them. The rest of the company stand around the tower, arms lifted in a protective position in case the whole edifice should come crashing down. The girl on top raises her arms and smiles, the crowd goes wild.

Even before we’ve finished clapping, the Compagnie XY have dissolved and remoulded into another eye-popping tableau. Welcome to Le Grand C – where circus acrobatics meets modern dance in a chic fusion of athleticism and flair. The Roundhouse’s huge stage provides the perfect canvas, and the extra room only adds oxygen to a sizzling performance.

While the human towers and aerial work are most memorable, what’s most impressive here is the deftness of touch in the choreography (Abdeliazide Senhadji and Loïc Touze) – we don’t start with trumpets and leaping. Instead, the performers arrive on stage gradually, silently. Some wriggle up and down each other while others pose on the mat. In the very dim light, you might imagine them to be half-thoughts, unborn ideas or inhuman, living sculptures. Later, a seven man pile-on adds a pinch of wit to the recipe, releasing the pressure cranked up and up by the daredevil lifted leaps.

Acrobatics as a performance genre is possibly unique inasmuch as mistakes make the show more enthralling. If Compagnie XY struggles to lift a 15 stone man twenty feet in the air, it must be hard. This is as ‘live’ as you’re going to get – you can smell the sweat, you can see the relief in the eyes of the performers as they tumble through the air, caught at the last moment by a safe pair of hands. You can only marvel at the trust and regard for one another which enable this immensely talented company to work at all.

My only criticism – when watching Le Grand C, one pair of eyes is simply not enough.


Chalk Farm Road

0844 482 8008

Tickets £15-25





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