Bence Vági and a member of the Recirquel troupe during rehearsals for My Land
© Tamás Réthey-Prikkel | Recirquel

Recirquel Company Budapest has been making waves ever since its foundation six years ago. This contemporary circus ensemble has performed all over the world, including Tel-Aviv, Cannes, Bogotá and Edinburgh, with dates recently announced for New York. Artistic director and founder Bence Vági also directed the Closing Ceremony of the 17th FINA World Aquatics Championships, held in Budapest in 2017. Recirquel is now resident at Müpa Budapest, where it premieres all of its contemporary circus productions, the first to be designed for a theatre stage in Hungary. 

We spoke with Recirquel's founder and artistic director Bence Vági about his vision.

Recirquel aims to “narrow the distance between physical theatre, dance and circus”. How did you, a trained dancer, discover circus? 

Circus has been for me one of those ever-present influences, but never consciously noted. With the creation of Recirquel, this influence emerged to the surface to become one with my contemporary and classical dance training.

Do you feel that circus art provided you with a new dimension for theatrical storytelling?

Circus is a new dimension for theatrical expression: it only entered theatre in the 1970s. We could say, in a way, that the theatre world was bored: they brought in music and contemporary dance, and they were looking for ways to reinvent theatre and the way it tells stories.

Night Circus
© Attila Nagy

You trained with Endre Jeszenszky, who taught you Russian ballet among other forms of dance. How deep is your connection to these classical roots? 

When I was a young dancer I was resisting classical ballet and everything that followed very strict rules and regulations. As you grow older and more mature, you find the beauty and freedom in the limited aesthetic system of ballet. I fall in love with classical ballet more and more with age, and I think ballet is one of the most beautiful ways of telling a story in physical theatre. What's especially inspirational for me is how you can take this traditional way of storytelling and implant it into contemporary circus, creating what we call "cirque danse".

You work with the same artists over the years, production after production rather than on a show per show basis, much like a dance company. Why?

Our company was founded with eleven artists who had just graduated from the Hungarian Circus Institute. Working long-term with people gives us much firmer ground to showcase their talent. The more you know a performer, the more you can trust them, the more you can extract from their knowledge and make it visible on stage. We work with other people as well, of course, and we have guest artists featured in our shows. For example, for the FINA World Aquatics Championships' Closing Ceremony we had over 250 artists, half of whom came from circus, half from the dance world. Still, I do stick very much to my company, which is composed of Hungarian artists. In our most recent production, My Land, we started working with seven Ukrainian artists, but we are planning to work with them long-term: we want to watch and nurture their talent for years to come.

Your creations feature beautiful musical accompaniment. The movement seems rooted in the soundscape. How do you work with music?

Music plays a very important role in all of our productions. Usually I create the scene without it, just hearing it in my head. Once the scene is finished, I call the composer, I show them the scene and I try to communicate my impressions. There are some Recirquel productions where not a single note of music was written without me being present. It’s like creating a film score: you watch the atmosphere and start looking for music that can help you express the scene's emotion to the audience. Circus is very special in its momentum: when you are 10-metre high on a tight wire, you have to focus on being safe. In those moments music has to help you projecting the emotion of that scene.

Night Circus
© Attila Nagy

Tell us about the shows you are presenting in Budapest this year, Night Circus and Non Solus. It seems that Night Circus belongs more to the circus genre, whereas Non Solus has a distinctive dance quality to its aesthetics. Is that so?

 Our first three productions with the company were really about finding a new language of Hungarian contemporary circus. We have put great emphasis on the development of the company members and have paid a lot of attention to their dance training and the enhancement of their physical knowledge. The abstraction of dance is an amazing way of telling stories. Sometimes circus as a genre is rather limited, because you have to focus on doing a trick while your life is in danger. When you are dancing, you are freer. Combining the freedom of movement with the superhuman qualities of circus brings out a new form of performing arts: the "cirque danse". When we created Non Solus, which is a duet show performed by a dancer and a circus artist, we cross-trained them for over a year. This conflict between the body and the soul is outlining the story of Non Solus, which is a beautiful and very personal metaphor of the moment that changed my life forever: with the creation of Recirquel I entered a new world.


This article was sponsored by Müpa Budapest.