Friday, April 22, 2005

Cirque du Soleil

I had one of the most wonderful experiences of my life last
night. Cirque du Soleil is in Pittsburgh on a tour. It's
basically impossible to describe in words how magical the
night was. The tent was a beautiful blue and yellow canvas
swirl. It wasn't very big inside, and we could see the
entire (almost circular) stage very well. The show was
called Varekei. From their website

"The word varekai means "wherever" in the Romany language of
the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays
tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the
circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose
quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai."

There was a forest of tall golden trees (poles) in the back
where throughout there were numerous creatures bounding
about, often 25 feet above the ground. The show began with
a man dressed all in white with two long white feathers for
wings falling from the sky. After some inspection from the
multifarious and fantastical inhabitants, he was drawn into
the air on a diamond shape net. A spectacular, but at the
same time elegant and beautiful acrobatic routine followed.
He reminded me more of a wonderful dancer at a ballet than a
traditional acrobat.

There followed a number of beautiful scenes in this truly
ballet-like story. (There was hardly a word spoken.)
Some of my favorites:

A trio of probably 8 year old Asian children carrying 7'
ropes with bowls attached to either end. They had a
routine where they would get the ropes spinning and toss
them 20' into the air while doing somersaults, flips and
spin kicks underneath. A highlight was when they were
standing on each other's shoulders 3-high while the top two
continued to spin their ropes. They were so intense and
professional. It made me smile...

Another acrobatic scene: There were benches with a declining
angle (like a decline bench press). One would lie on the
bench and hold his feet up. Another would somehow launch
himself onto the awaiting feet. The top one proceeded to be
hurled in continuous flips and twists, often finishing
standing on the feet of the reclining one. It was a tour de
force in balance and charisma. It was literally
breathtaking (as were so many of the acts...)

Hands down the best juggler I've ever seen, or even hope to
see. There were the usual pins, balls, etc at which his
skill was superlative. But there was
wild new stuff as well he started throwing up these straw
summer hats at an angle above the audience. The hats came
back to him slowly (as when you throw a Frisbee diagonally in to
the air) while he was throwing others at other parts of the
audience. Meanwhile he was running a large circular loop
around the stage. It was so charming and funny. Just

A duo of acrobats on a simple ropes from the ceiling. They
did a symmetric dance. The symmetry was twofold. First
horizontal. Then vertical when one did a handstand and
variations using his two wrist ropes while the other
imitated his actions below. It was fantastic. (We heard
some enchanted middle aged women gawking at their awesome
bodies after the show...)

I've left out a dozen scenes, each worthy of comment, but
alas I have about 100 hours of work to do before Friday. I
remember when Cirque came to NYC. The tent was even on the
path of my long run, when I ran on Randall's Island. I
looked at the tent with envy, but decided I couldn't afford
the $80 ticket. This time I got lucky and, thanks to a
wonderful friend, found aa $20 ticket. The ticket is worth
every penny, and in retrospect I would have forked over the
$80 had I known what I know now.
If you ever have an opportunity to see them, it is truly a
magical, artistic, profound celebration of all things
beautiful about humanity.

(I found these pictures on the internet (had to turn my
camara off) but they convey a good sense of the environment)

1 comment:

  1. I liked your review! We just saw Varekai last night - it was incredible, like nothing I've ever seen before. It was amazing the way they used every square centimetre of the tent area - a truly three dimensional show. The music was fantastic and compelling, the set was mind-boggling and the costumes and colours were inspired...My only complaint is that I only have one pair of eyes to take it all in - I think I could see the show five times and still have more to see =)