Backstage on the Cabiri’s new show, Tewaz

The circle forms. Photo by Joe Iano. Licensed CC-BY-SA.

The circle forms. Photo by Joe Iano.
Licensed CC-BY-SA.

TEWAZ is part I of the Cabiri’s ambitious TEA Trilogy that is filled with dazzling aerialists and acrobats. This epic adventure crosses 8,000 years of folktales from Anatolia, through the Levant (present day eastern Mediterranean) and into North Africa. In TEWAZ the angelic Watchers return to make contact with the people of Huyukan (the pre-literate lost society of the Anatolian Plateau).

That’s what the press release says. What it does not tell you is that it’s likely the most ambitious cirque piece ever performed by a Seattle troupe. And it’s only Part One.

Over their fifteen years, I’ve been watching The Cabiri for about ten of them. During that period they have grown to be the second-largest dance company in Seattle, yet they remain obscure to many Seattleites.

That’s a shame because they are consistently among the interesting dance companies in a city that has many dancers of acclaim.

The work of the Cabiri falls into that nominal category called “circus.” But that word now means something quite different from Barnum and Bailey. Contemporary circus, also called nouveau cirque, retains the spectacular nature of traditional circus, but instead of being a series of isolated spectacles tied together by a carnival barker or narrator, such work tends to be story-driven. Each “act” merges into the next as a way of advancing the narrative.

Their work has always been tightly structured and highly disciplined. The scale of this, the first part of the TEA Trilogy, requires even more structure and discipline. This one has everything. Acrobatics. Silks. Tumbling. Dance. Video. Puppets. Taiko drums. It’s vast. It’s ambitious. And it’s a little awe-inspiring to watch.

Photographer Joe Iano went behind the scenes to watch The Cabiri at work. He brought back these images. I hope you like them. And I hope you see the show.

Filed under Dance

Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net