Mix the grittiness of urban dance, the mesmerizing elements of circus artistry, the energy and feats of juggling and acrobatic performers and you've got Cirque Eloize.
"I'm always looking for interesting new art forms. I want people to see and enjoy the energy of this group of artists," said Jeannot Painchaud, artistic director and co-founder of Cirque Eloize.
The group's newest production "Cirque Eloize iD" opens April 26 at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre and runs through May 8.
Painchaud said "Cirque Eloize iD" draws on what's happening in the young, hip performing arts scene of today.
He said hip-hop dance, break dancing, and other urban dance forms are elements of the urban theatrical scene he finds fascinating.
"iD" stars modern break dancers, acrobats, jugglers, various contortionists, stunt biker, aerialists and other circus acts amid an original electronic, techno and melodic musical backdrop complete with video projections and other theatrics.
The music performed is always an important aspect of Cirque Eloize, the artistic director said.
"There's a high level of energy in the musical score," Painchaud added. The score was composed by Jean-Phi Goncalves of the band Beast.
Painchaud explained the storyline behind the newest Eloize production lies in the fact that it brings people of different backgrounds together and showcases their relationships with one another while exploring the concept of identity.
He said the imaginative set is meant to capture the audience's attention as well.
"I want people to be drawn in to the action on this set that's half real. It's a type of video set, like a cartoon," Painchaud said. "I really wanted to create this type of feeling onstage."
A blend of graffiti images, comics and video help create the electric and contemporary scene.
Cirque Eloize, based in Montreal, Canada, got its start in 1993. Co-founder Painchaud said he's long been interested in the vibrant circus arts as well as theatrics.
"I've always liked the physical theater and I love all kinds of shows. I like to explore," said Painchaud, who is a graduate of the National Circus School in Montreal.
"I kind of ran away with the circus," Painchaud said, adding he performed with a variety of circus groups and other theatrical companies for more than a decade.
"I was an acrobat and for a few years I also used to be a street performer," he said. In addition, he was experienced in juggling, bicycle riding and acting.
Painchaud thinks of his latest Cirque Eloize production as "close to a Broadway show but in a circus atmosphere."
"It's also about exploring new ideas and breaking down the barriers (of what people think of as a traditional circus)," he said.
"This is a show for everyone. It's for the 5- to 90-year-old," Painchaud said.