Modern Denmark

Filmby – Aarhus

Not far away is Filmby, the city’s 13-year-old soundstage complex where both seasons of Dicte were filmed. VIA University College, the local vocational school, recently launched a filmmaking programme that includes internships at the studios. “Students are taught how to make productions, from idea to finished product,” Ellen Riis, a filmmaker who heads the programme, said. With its foray into entertainment, Aarhus hopes to take its long-standing underground arts culture mainstream.

One night near the end of my stay, I met up with Krull at Godsbanen, a former railway station converted into a den of artists’ studios. Krull and I were there at the recommendation of his friend Dr. Bo, a magician with a slender moustache and a broad-brimmed black hat. Dr Bo knew about a travelling circus, the Brunette Bros., that was scheduled to perform that night among the trailers. It was twilight. The Brunette Bros. ran out of a trailer decked in old-style circus signage. A small crowd gathered, and the smell of popcorn cut through the moist air.

“Popcorn,” Dr. Bo murmured, sniffing theatrically. “A small sign of showbiz?’

Brunette Bros Circus – Aarhus

The clowns served the popcorn wrapped in old magazine pages. The show began. With balletic precision, they played out a domestic drama with the trailer as a stage. “A clown’s life,” one said, at the droll peak of the performance, “is a mess.” A puppet show began. The clowns provided musical backing with an accordion and a tuba. ‘We’re having some technical difficulties tonight!” one announced in mock panic, and urged the audience to the next face of the trailer. There were seats there, formed into a miniature amphitheater, and a cozy fire in a brazier nearby. The puppet show continued, more elaborately, with small toy figurines and intricate backdrops, flamenco dancers and musclemen, and a Rapunzel-like woman who did acrobatics on her own enormous braid. It was the smallest, cheapest circus I had ever seen. But as the night wore on in Scandinavia’s great unknown city, it seemed fitting that it should also be, by a wide margin, the best.

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