There are certain performances that make such an impression on their audiences that they never forget what they saw. They may not remember the exact details of the show, but they never forget the experience.
Cirque du Soleil is one of those.
A skillfully choreographed combination of spellbinding dance, theater, gymnastics, aerial artistry, colorful costumes and dramatic lighting effects, enhanced by original music played live on stage, every Cirque du Soleil production is a scintillating experience of exquisite fantasy.
Comprised of 1,200 highly trained performers from 23 countries, the traveling company has been dazzling audiences around the globe since its inception as a small Canadian troupe in 1984.
Cirque du Soleil has 20 productions under its belt, with intriguing names such as Alegria, Kooza, Varekai and Zarkana. Every show has a theme and a story line, which unfolds amid a stunning array of spectacular sequences of artistic acrobatics, set to haunting music. Using a wide range of apparatus such as ropes, rings, trapeze and hoops, and contorting their bodies into positions that don’t seem physically possible, the performers spin and swirl in a dizzying panorama of dramatic feats. Even a simple skipping rope becomes a source of awe in the hands of these skilled acrobatic artists.
Cirque du Soleil will be performing in Tel Aviv from July 2 to 16, presenting its show Quidam.
It tells the story of a lonely young girl named Zoe who finds meaning and fulfillment through encounters with a series of fascinating strangers. The Latin word quidam means “anonymous passer-by.” In the show, each stranger becomes a catalyst for change for Zoe and an object of wonder for the audience.
For example, Zoe meets a young woman who performs an aerial contortion in silk. Using two long parallel strips of red silk fabric suspended from the ceiling, the lithe gymnast twists and gyrates in the air, wrapping herself in the strips and maneuvering her body into dozens of intricate, graceful positions.
“Quidam is my favorite show,” says British-born artistic director Michael Smith, who has been with Cirque du Soleil since 2005. “It has all the magic of Cirque du Soleil, but this show has more – it is based on human experience: What you give out, you receive.
There is a whole other world going on, and you see different layers every time. I have seen the show many times, and each time I see something different.
Everything has a metaphor or a symbol to it, whether you recognize it or not.”
Cirque du Soleil has been performing Quidam for the past 20 years.
“Each artist brings a little of themselves,” says the company’s publicist Jessica Lebeouf. “And the musicians and singers can riff a little on their own. Sometimes a singer will add in the name of a friend or family member who is in the audience. These added elements keep the show fresh for the audience and the performers.”
Not only is the music original in all the Cirque du Soleil shows, but the songs are written in an invented language, which sounds almost familiar enough to be recognizable.
It adds yet another surreal aspect to each show’s mystique.
In Quidam there are 2,500 costume pieces, and every item is handmade for each performer, right down to the shoes and socks, Leboeuf explains. There are 200 different looks, and each character can have seven looks. “The only things we buy are running shoes,” she says.
Cirque du Soleil, whose name means “circus of the sun” in French, is the largest theatrical producer in the world.
Headquartered in Montreal, the company has 5,000 employees and 1,200 performers worldwide. With a cast and crew from 23 countries, the language of communication is English “and a lot of hand gesturing,” says Leboeuf.
The traveling troupe performs a minimum of 300 shows a year.
“We have 19 trucks on the road filled with equipment and wardrobe trunks, 22 full-time technicians and 80 local stagehands,” she says.
Meticulous to a fault, every show is a fine-tuned work of art. For those who have been to a performance of Cirque du Soleil before, and especially those who have not, this is an opportunity to see a show that is nothing short of spectacular.Cirque du Soleil will perform at the Menora Arena (Yad Eliyahu) in Tel Aviv from July 2 to 16. For tickets and information: *9066; www.eventim.co.il