IF you had just one word to encapsulate French-Canadian circus spectacular, BARBU, it would be – beards.
Hairy, untamed, manly – not hipster – beards.
Every male in the troupe – except DJ David Simard who is simply moustached – sports one.
BARBU creator and performer, Antoine Carabinier Lepine – who has worn his whiskered fixture for six years – said facial hair had become the collective’s brand, and was not a mere fashion statement.
“Before BARBU (which translates to bearded), we had another show called Timber! and we needed beards for that because it was a lumberjack circus show,” he said.
“After that, we decided to keep them.
“They sometimes get in the way: when we climb on each other we have to be careful where we put our feet.”
Carabinier Lepine founded world-renowned company Cirque Alfonse in 2005 after putting on a show for his father’s 60th birthday.
Comprising his sister, brother-in-law and friends, the group creates cheeky circus acts, bearing muscles, beards and sweat, and mixing all various artforms together.
“People are really close to us and it’s not that often you can see bodies like ours performing what we are doing,” Carabinier Lepine said.
“We also wanted to keep traditional Quebec roots: All the music in Alfonse is traditional folk, but in BARBU, we decided to mix it up with electro music – kind of a circus rave.”
The 35-year-old discovered his calling at 14 in his home city, Montreal.
“My father took me to see a National Circus School show and when I saw it, I fell in love,” Carabinier Lépine said.
“I told my parents that I really wanted to do circus and they supported me and I managed to enter the National Circus School in Montreal. Since then it has been my life and it is going to be it for me, until I’m unable to do it.
“I’ve been doing circus for almost 20 years: we train a lot and have done so many shows over the years, but we are still alive!”
Carabinier Lépine is in Perth, for the first time, for two weeks and looks forward to visiting the beach and exploring the city.
Where: Salon Perdu Spiegeltent, The Pleasure Garden
When: until February 3