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For 49-year-old actor and dancer Anva Libabov, the greatest challenge of the show "Krakatuk" is not how to transport the awe-inspiring, multi-disciplinary stage equipment around the world during an international tour, but how to stay fit and keep up physically with the other 54 energetic performers.
"The younger people in the show help keep me in shape," said the multi-talented showman during a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.
As the lead in the circus-inspired "Krakatuk" - an adaptation of E.T.A Hoffman's "The Nutcracker" and "The Mouse King" set to Tchaikovsky's famous score - Libabov must acrobatically fly through the air, dance through hoops of fire and make audience members believe in a world of total fantasy.
"It is important for me that Israeli audiences feel the emotion of the show," continued Libabov, who has performed in several other Russian-produced productions in Israel over the past few years. "But with its visual aspects and vibrancy, one can't help but love it."
Here this week to promote the show, which scheduled to arrive on July 21, he added: "I get a lot of energy from being in Israel. I love the weather, it is always sunny and hot; a big difference from my hometown of St. Petersburg."
"Krakatuk," which is being sponsored here by the YES TV satellite company, will be staged at the Nokia basketball stadium through August 2. Subscribers to YES are entitled to purchase two tickets to the performance for the prize of one. Each regular ticket costs NIS 240.
Produced by Andrei Moguchy, the four-year-old "Krakatuk" was described by John Freedman of The Moscow Times as a "swirling blend of acrobatics, dramatic action, circus tricks and animated film, all of which are bound together by an ever-changing musical score that runs the gamut from Tchaikovsky to rock to electronic."
Libabov told The Post that while there will be simultaneous translations to Hebrew, local audiences should have no problem following the story line as there is a "bare minimum of spoken texts."
Like the original tale, Masha, the lead female role, falls asleep and is visited in her dreams by her sweetheart and numerous evil figures that aim is to destroy her happiness. Of course the terrifying Mouse King is the ultimate enemy and Masha is joined by an assortment of her toys as the war against him unfolds. Claiming victory, Masha is reunited with her sweetheart again and decides she is better off remaining with him in the world of dreams.
The acrobatic extravaganza, which has made the rounds in Russia, the Ukraine and France with great success, will perform 11 shows between July 21 and August 2. The cast includes acrobats, Chinese tumblers, clowns, ballerinas, and other various dancers all in colorful, elaborate costumes and extremely exotic makeup.
Similar to Cirque du Soleil, the circus "floats" as cast members perform on ropes and sometimes bungee cords. Others dangle and swing from rings and bars, and the main characters dance and soar through the air on wires. All of this occurs while at the same time special effect lighting, pyrotechnics, fog machines, and visual projections add to the edgy whimsy of the storyline.
But unlike Cirque du Soleil, "Krakatuk" is decidedy darker, sharper, and at times, scarier. Villains dress in outrageously elaborate black costumes that look like giant bugs, and there is a moment when a rogue acrobat strapped to bungee cords actually dives into the audience, grabs an "unsuspecting" member, and, while holding onto her, flips through the air to deposit her safely on stage.
To order tickets, call, 03-604-5000 or visit www.tkts.co.il.
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