An acrobat performs in Cuisine and Confessions.

An acrobat performs in Cuisine and Confessions.

Secret ingredient: Les 7 Doigts performs in Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Circus troupe performs its fusion of dance and food with Cuisine and Confessions at the Port Theatre.

It’s an unexpected ingredient list: food and dance.

But when mixed together, Les 7 Doigts serves up a feast of movement and memories with Cuisine and Confessions.

Acrobat Melvin Diggs joined the production immediately after graduation from École nationale de cirque in Montreal and began the creative process with other dancers and acrobats to tell stories of food through movement.

“I had no idea what it was going to be,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think because I couldn’t see how to combine those things.”

The two artistic directors for the production, Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila, gathered the performers on stage in a sort of roundtable in which they shared experiences, memories and feelings to break down barriers between the artists.

“We knew each other as if we’d been working together for years,” Diggs said.

Food is one commonality among humans; we all need to eat. In this production, the kitchen is the centrepiece, just like it is in life.

“I always had this image … of my mom making me omelettes,” Diggs said, explaining that he didn’t know his father, so that when his siblings left to spend time with theirs, he would get time to sit and talk with his mom. “She would give me more of her time,” he said.

Growing up in St. Louis, Diggs discovered the circus and acrobatics by chance during a work-placement program. His mentor from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program wanted to keep him occupied and off the wrong path in the summer, so signed Diggs up to work at a news station.

Unfortunately, the station was over capacity for students, so Diggs got sent to a circus camp as support staff helping with the kids who were participating and met the touring troupe of performers.

“The next day, I signed up,” he said. “It changed my life.”

Diggs’s memories of the omelettes are not so much how good they tasted but more about the time spent with his mom – and that’s what Cuisine and Confessions is aiming to capture. Performers take the feelings behind those moments and express those in movement.

The performers create food on stage, and while it’s all choregraphed, it’s also live theatre.

“An egg may not crack where it needs to be,” Diggs said, adding the dancers just smile and carry on with the show.

Les 7 Doigts performs two shows Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 31-Feb. 1), 7:30 p.m., at the Port Theatre.

In those shows, you’ll see Diggs create pasta toward the end. Part of the creative process involved the cast eating meals together and working with a chef to understand the process of cooking.

He’ll likely stick to acrobatics, though.

“I can make a really good bowl of cereal,” he said.

Tickets $52; $48/members; $25/students. Please call 250-754-8550.