Tempos Contemporary Circus

Eliminating the “Ta-Da”

Kraig Mead – Artistic Director of the Contemporary Circus troupe Tempos says “Dance is a big word. But one of the most important components of it, in the context of Tempos, is the dancer being connected to the music, the sense of gravity, and the other people on stage.” While formally trained in acrobatics, dance and physical theatre, Kraig discovered he needed to deconstruct many of the elements of his training to achieve his vision.

“In stunting there is a definitive ta-da moment, some badass stuff for sure, but overall just not what I’m looking for.” Instead Kraig wants to see every moment as important as the next. He pointed out that an acrobat finishes their trick and then has a feeling of being done, being safe. But a dancer never stops. They flow one movement into the next, the entry, the exit, and the performance quality never getting thrown away. So he challenged himself and his company to transition away from the staccato ta-da moment and move towards more fluidity. That constraint evolved into reworking every trick he knew. “More like good partner dance, tango or blues where it’s more important to connect with your partner, I was seeking that quality in acrobatics.”

While there was some initial resistance from the performers, concerned their tricks would be diminished, once the concept was in their minds it wasn’t as hard as they thought. Use of character and a bit more creativity of movement helped disguise the preps and recovery. And another essential aspect of “dance” was achieved. “If a dancer becomes attached to the movement and is really invested, the audience will feel it.”