Aerial Wizards of Oz

Circus from Down Under shows how it's done.

Somehow the holidays have become when the circus comes to town. Even in the absence of the usual holiday Pickle Circus show this year, San Francisco is currently juggling Cirque du Soleil at AT&T Park and Circus Finelli at Footloose, and about to add Sweet Can at Dance Mission to the mix. But hey, we’re not complaining, especially if it keeps December from becoming the season of Neil Simon or something.

On the East Bay front, Cal Performances brings Circus Oz to UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. Founded in 1977, the anarchic Australian troupe is of roughly the same new-circus generation as Cirque du Soleil or the Bay Area’s own Pickles, but in its punk-informed aesthetic it’s a long way from Cirque, providing plenty of razzle-dazzle but about as un-ethereal as you can get, combining stunning acrobatics and subversive humor with a rock-fueled score. Among the treats on display in its aptly named Laughing at Gravity tour are a saucy cabaret ringmistress, a BMX-accordionist bullfight, a singing stuntman sledgehammering cement blocks against a strongwoman’s stomach, swing-dancing jugglers, a contortionist in a pink lemonade dispenser, and maybe some piano smashing. If that sounds like an assault on the senses, well, that’s just Australian for “circus.” Circus Oz plays Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m., November 29 through December 2 at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. Tickets $26-$48. 510-642-9988 or


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