Les Arts Sauts in Ola Kola

Waitangi Park, Wellington

24/02/2006 - 20/03/2006

New Zealand International Arts Festival

Production Details

Les Arts Sauts [France]

The magicians of the air return with an all-new death-defying and elegant trapeze show. The runaway hit of the 2000 Festival, Les Arts Sauts’ last show was so popular the entire 15-night season sold out.  Six years later, the acclaimed French trapeze artists present their brand new and even more bewitching performance, Ola Kala.

Fifteen trapeze artists perform breathtaking, high-flying acts in a 28-metre-high white inflatable dome, which is actually eight metres higher than in 2000. Erected in the Festival Zone of the new Waitangi Park, the dome will house this spectacular event.  The audience lies back in specially designed lounger-style deck-chairs, complete with rubber roll for added neck support, whilst the spectacular trapeze show unfolds above their heads.

Cirque-aerial-theatre , Theatre ,

1 hr 15 min, no interval

Heavenly spectacle

Review by John Smythe 26th Feb 2006

The giant silver dome in Waitangi Park could belong to an observatory, except there is no aperture for a telescope. Our entry into the interior, between bulbous inflations, is positively carnal and the ambience within may best be described as ‘inner space’.

A haze hangs in the air, illuminated above our heads with horizontal light. Once supine in our deck chairs, it’s as if we’re completing the lower curve of the globe itself. And we’re suitably located ‘down-under’.

When, in silence, bodies fall slowly into the light, caught gently by a membrane which springs them back into darkness above, its as if they are trying to enter our part of the world. Or maybe we inhabit the Underworld of Greek mythology and these are souls in danger of gaining entry for eternity. And to be pragmatic, if the net wasn’t there, they would.

The Les Arts Sauts show is called Ola Kala which is Greek, I am told, for all is well (and is also, my sources tell me, the origin of the colloquial OK, used by immigrant wharfies in California to mark loads ready for shipment). In the absence of a programme, not even that information is available to the audience. The experience is therefore open to interpretation by all who come.

As a death-defying spectacle, we may well feel all is well when extraordinary feats of aerial ballet are executed without casualties, thanks to the aforementioned net. Beyond that, we may conjure with notions of angels cavorting in the heavenly spheres. Or maybe, for some, it simply demonstrates the human capacity to achieve great things beyond the limits of ordinary life.

Fifteen aerial artists use platforms, cross-bars, fixed swings and trapeze swings to make this air space their playground, soaring, catching, spinning, tumbling, diving and climbing to the accompaniment of a live band and a singer, also aloft. My abiding memory is of a blonde boy being passed about, forward, back, upward, downward and sideways … And miraculously all the artists avoid collision with each other and the equipment including their landing stages until, with tremendous velocity, they do alight on a platform.

For the watcher the dance between left-brain and right-brain perception replicates in miniature the equilibrium these performers must find between exacting technique and limitless artistry.

The fifty-strong collective, formed a dozen years ago, talks of disbanding in 2007 so this may well be their last visit to New Zealand. Catch them if you can.


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