Reviewed by Natalie Low
When you first enter the Ukiyo tent, there is a slight titillating feeling of excitement – a circus performance in an old school tent? It’s like we’re going back in time!
The performance, however, is anything but. It’s modern, fresh, and exciting. There’s a single metal hoop hung in the middle of the tent and a table filled with gadgets you’re not quite sure how they are going to be used. Then the 3 performers come out, dressed in the cutest white jumpsuits that make them look ageless. They gather by the microphone and start producing sounds. They begin looping the sounds on a loop pedal and creating a sound landscape that they can perform to. They step out from behind the sound-making machinery and bring the microphone along with them. They record the sounds made by the tippy ring, and then the first performer enters the ring. Throughout the performance, you begin to realise that all the music and sounds they are performing to, are made live by the performers. Be it through looping, compositions by Winter Cyan, they include gadgets such as motion detection sensors attached to their bodies. It’s fascinating, and brings a new element to the table as the performance affects the music, not the other way around. It also means the performers have a lot more freedom in their movements and you can see it in their faces as they dance around the stage discovering the sounds they are making with their bodies.
Aleshanee Kelso takes command of the tippy ring, and performs beautiful stunts on them. Kelso shines as a performer throughout, not just due to her impressive stunts, but also her warm and inviting smile and expertise in bringing the audience into the performance. Her pure delight and joy is infectious, and her enthusiasm in the performance means the audience is too. She is confident in her stunt work, and despite a couple of moments where the stunt might look to not go successfully, she tries again – all with a beautiful smile on her face. With hardly any dialogue in Signal, there is a challenge of ensuring the audience is following along, but Kelso does exactly that very well.
Easa Min-Swe is their acrobat on rope, and at first, he comes across a little shy, but his confidence clearly grows through the show. Each acrobat gets their chance to shine, and their time was with the rope. As he climbs higher and higher on the ropes, you can feel the audience get nervous but as the stunts come one after the other, Min-Swe pulls them off with grace and confidence.
Signal is headed by Winter Cyan, an acrobat performer, musician and sound engineer, and her leadership is clear throughout the performance. From spearheading all the audio equipment, and building of the sounds, she also impresses with each performance, pulling out new tricks as the show goes on. She gets on a Cyr wheel, a large metal hoop that requires the performer to balance on the inside of this hoop, using their entire body to move around doing tricks. It’s gravity-defying, but Cyan performs with such ease that as an audience, you sit back, relax and just enjoy the performance. None of that anxiety inducing type of acrobatics here!
There must also be a special shout out to the lighting design. Starting with calm, slow rhythmic pulsing of whites, blues, and pastel purples, the lighting builds as the performances do. Ultimately adding in effects, and more elaborate lighting – it matches the pace of the show perfectly.
All in all, a fun 60 minutes for all ages!