By Heidi Waleson, Oct. 30, 2019
…“En Masse,” presented by White Light last week in the Lynch Theater, was subtler and more successful with its imposed narrative. Created by Yaron Lifschitz, the artistic director of Circa, a highly theatrical ensemble of acrobats, it used music by Schubert and Stravinsky to depict the end of the world and the beginning of a new one. In the first part, Robert Murray, an eloquent tenor, costumed as an elderly vagabond, sang seven bleakly mournful songs from “Die Winterreise” and “Schwanengesang,” interspersed with harsh electronic pieces by Klara Lewis. The 10 virtuosic acrobats made physical and visual the emotional chaos and despair that was veiled in beauty in Schubert’s music and explicit in Ms. Lewis’s. They assembled their bodies into precarious towers and bridges and threw themselves at each other with alarming violence. It was a dark portrait of a once-united community fragmenting.
After intermission, Tamara-Anna Cislowska and Michael Kieran Harvey performed “The Rite of Spring” on two pianos, infusing it with remarkable timbral variety, savagery and tenderness. Here, the choreography felt more massed, like a living construction project—in one section, the troupe, writhing in an amorphous pile, grew into a spiral staircase that one of the women climbed; in another, a man held three other acrobats aloft, their limbs creating the form of a giant insect. The Circa performers never seemed to be simply accomplishing physical feats, and as creation followed destruction, their expressiveness was as moving as it was breathtaking.