Thursday, August 3, 2017

Unleash Your Inner Viking with Circus Juventas' Nordrsraga

 Nordrsraga is a little punk, a little sexy, and a whole lot of rock and roll.


Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

What's dark and flies and is sparkly all over?

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

Why that would be Nordrsraga, the latest show from the Twin Cities' resident circus arts school, Circus Juventas. I've written about Circus Juventas before and how cool their work is - I mean honestly, what a fun way to get kids both interested in exercise and in touch with their bodies - but this year's annual extravagant performance reaches a whole new level for them.

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

The only Circus Juventas show I've had the pleasure of attending previously was Peter Pan, which was obviously well suited to the circus format. Let me tell you: Nordrsraga blows Mr. Pan straight out of the water.

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

Nordrsraga loosely tells the story of Norwegian mythology by following Thor (who we may all remember with the big hammer?) as he sets on a quest through the nine worlds to retrieve his stolen hammer Mjölnir from his malicious brother Loki. Thor is joined on the quest by an impressive young boy named Leif (who we find out later is Thor's long-lost son). Together they journey through the monasteries of Midgard, the ice realm (Niflheim), the sunny land of elves (Álfheimr), the dark land of the dwarves (Svartálfaheimr), the fearsome land of the giants (Jötunheimr), the land of fire (Muspelheim), and all the way down to the foundation of the tree of the world itself, Yggdrasil. Many mischiefs follow Thor, Leif and their companions, but by the end of the show Mjölnir is returned and all is righted in Asgard.

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

At around three hours long (yes, be prepared!), Nordrsraga has to be filled with feats of bad-assery in order to keep you engaged, and don't worry: it does. Among the incredible tricks are a Viking ship suspended from the ceiling, with trapeze artists plunging off of it; some really gorgeous fire choreography including a full size, flaming sword wielded by a totally badass fire maiden; a series of tightrope walks; giants walking on stilts; elaborate trampoline choreography; and much more. My favorite though were two series of truly spectacular ribbon acrobatics that managed to be both heart pounding and graceful at once. These performers are true athletes regardless of their ages, and I had the best time seeing their skill levels blend throughout the story. I wish I had a cast list (I couldn't find one), but I have to give a strong shout out to the performers who played Thor and Leif. Both were spectacularly fit and clearly understood the art of over-the-top showmanship, reveling in their physicality and giving the audience a truly fiery, engaged performance from top to bottom.

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

If you're not familiar with Norwegian mythology, I would recommend doing at least a cursory glance through Wikipedia before hitting Nordrsraga. You can get the gist of the story if you don't, but it really helps to engage with the narrative if you already know which creatures are which. There is also not a lot of narrative here to help you and no program to reference, so if you're more of a story person than a visual person, it definitely helps to have done some prior research. I'd also recommend getting some snacks - three hours is no joke! - and bringing a cushion for the stadium seating, which can get a little uncomfortable after a performance that long.

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas. 

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday, and I cannot express how exciting it was to check this show out at that time. I'm half Norwegian, so this mythology is something I find highly comforting, fascinating, and under-appreciated. It was so cool to see the legends of my ancestors wrought in glittering detail under the big top for Nordrsraga, and I'd highly recommend it for viewers of any age.  For more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.

Photo courtesy of Circus Juventas.