Getting the place rockin’

Times Staff Writer

FOCUSfish Performance Fitness Center used rock ‘n’ roll (much of it live) to propel and unify its “Circus to the Stars” Friday at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, an event with no real perspective or theme but plenty of major talent, and a vibrant index to the range of disciplines honed at the Hollywood center.

On the multilevel outdoor stage, nothing looked more magical than the set by Fire Groove, with flames leaping from hoops, fans, wheels and batons -- all manipulated flawlessly by Hannah Mooney, Kamala Mathis and Lester Mooney.

In the evening’s comic highlight, jugglers Patrick Cummings and Paul Beauvais joined narrator Kirsten Roeters and the GLANK band for delicious parodies of Cirque du Soleil-style Euro pretense. An overlong set by the Mums (led by Ray Johns, Nathan Stein and Philip Salomon) ricocheted between exciting juggling feats and portentous mumbo-jumbo relying on unreliable technical effects.

Accompanied by percussion and berimbau, Capoeira Brasil presented displays of flamboyant and dangerous foot-fighting by men who were clearly masters, along with a much tamer workout for what looked like students. High-intensity athleticism also dominated the slow-motion gymnastic duet “Duzaum” by the superbly matched Chobi Gyorgy and Alexander Fedortchev.

Unfortunately, aerial choreographer Ingrid Hoffman couldn’t create much impact from positioning clusters of Myo company members on the free-standing trapeze units way at the back of the Ford stage. They were simply too far from the audience and from one another. But these segments boasted powerful accompaniments from the Kyo rock band, with Paul Rivera’s vocals and lyrics adding an element of brooding social commentary.


Kyo’s hottest playing came in Josie Walsh’s “Convergence,” a skillful pop dance ensemble for rampaging Myo hellions. Hassan Christopher and Marissa Labog supplied another kind of contemporary dance in “Necessary Evil,” a duet for a bicyclist and a woman obsessed with a cardboard carton. It had lots of clever moments but no real ending.

FOCUSfish also provided interludes of stilt-dancing, hula-hoop expertise, comedy and balloon play.