Interview with Compagnie XY

Maddy Price got talking to the French Acrobatic Group, Compagnie XY, about their new show, It’s Not Yet Midnight…,  on now at The Roundhouse.

It’s Not Yet Midnight at the Roundhouse is your first performance in London for 7 years. Welcome back! Are you excited to perform for UK audiences?

Of course, we’re always excited to perform, to discover new places and new audiences. Some of us are even more excited since they remember the great welcome we had last time. Moreover, it’s not every day that we can perform in London, that is a great thing!

What has changed since you were last here? You are at the cutting edge of contemporary circus; can you tell us a bit about how the art is evolving?

Generally speaking, I think a lot of change has come about in relation to the French government’s cultural politics; there are fewer and fewer big companies now. That has led to more and more very good shows with fewer people, who would perhaps have joined others to create bigger shows, but who are instead doing more intimate things. However, that didn’t have any repercussions for us. Among the company, our evolution is mostly about digging deeper and deeper with our own tools (collective acrobatics) in our environment (collective shows).

You seem to include a lot of elements from contemporary dance and performance art in your routines. What are your influences and inspirations?

There are a lot of people in the company and each one of us has their own history and own sources of inspiration. Our goal is to collect them and to find the ones that we could all embrace, the ones that could bring our acrobatics to other places that we couldn’t have found otherwise. It goes from rugby to Lindy Hop thru castells (the Catalan towers), contemporary dance, traditional circus…

As a company, you operate in quite a unique way – all living and working together in a collective. How does that work and how does it inform your shows?

It takes time, a lot of time, and it requires patience too. There are no leaders and every single decision is made after a lot of talking and listening to each other, collecting the different opinions, understanding the benefits and disadvantages of each, and then allowing time for the group to gather around the one that makes more sense.

It is also a lot about finding the right balance between the collective needs and the individual ones. We have to put ourselves on the side for the benefit of the group, but the group has to take into account the individuals too.

For example, we don’t vote because sometimes we wouldn’t do something that could upset even one or two individuals. That is true for little things like transportation, but as well for bigger decisions like the directions we take during devising… And as you’ll be able to see soon, the show is about this all along.

What can we expect from It’s Not Yet Midnight? Is this your most challenging show yet?

As circus acrobats, challenges are the engine that drives us. By the facts, we always play with the most challenging things we can try from where we are at the moment. From my point of view, this is the essence of circus. In the previous show, the challenge was to be able to create a show without anything else than collective acrobatics (that we were discovering by the time). For It’s not yet midnight…, the challenge was to go deeper into our material and being able to do it in a wider range of energy. So, for sure you can expect challenges, but on top of that, the show is also a lot about doing them together with all the impacts it means.

Get along and see Compagnie XY at the Roundhouse from 10 – 23 April

Maddy Price

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