Cirque in the city

Karla Hayward
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Big show - minus the Big Top - is preparing to dazzle St. John's

Lions and tigers and bears, oh - wait. Cirque Du Soleil is one circus that's entirely sans animals. But it's certainly not without hair-raising thrills, heart-stopping chills and utterly astonishing acts.

Equally astonishing, perhaps, is Cirque's choice to leave its beloved Big Top behind in order to bring one of its shows - "Saltimbanco" - to Mile One Centre next week.

Submitted photo

Lions and tigers and bears, oh - wait. Cirque Du Soleil is one circus that's entirely sans animals. But it's certainly not without hair-raising thrills, heart-stopping chills and utterly astonishing acts.

Equally astonishing, perhaps, is Cirque's choice to leave its beloved Big Top behind in order to bring one of its shows - "Saltimbanco" - to Mile One Centre next week.

"Saltimbanco" is the circus's longest running show, having been seen by more than 9.5 million people in its 14-year lifespan. It's often thought of as the show that really opened up the world to Cirque and has proven itself timeless in the interim. Until recently, it's been staged in large venues under the Big Top. It's been completely restaged to bring it to smaller venues.

But very little of "Saltimbanco's" original content has been lost, says Carmen Ruest, the show's director of creation.

"In terms of creative content, the only thing we've changed is we've taken out one of the acts - it's a double high-wire act," Ruest said.

"As the venues are different every time, it was not safe to take this act on the road to arenas because the aerial rigging can be too tricky."

Beyond that, everything's simply been streamlined from a technical and mechanical standpoint. What once took nine days to set up and two-and-a-half to tear down will now take nine hours to go up and 2 1/2 hours to come down.

Why the downsize? To reach more people, Ruest said.

"Our goal with these (arena) shows is to bring more happiness to more audiences. You will forget your worries for an hour and a half, that's for sure. And maybe someone goes back home and thinks of what he saw and has a little bit more happiness or thinks, 'This is possible.'"

The name "Saltimbanco" comes from two sources, Ruest explained.

"The name in Italian means to jump from one bench to another. But in French it means the street performers who go from one city to another, performing on the streets, not having a home anywhere."

In that regard, the show has something in common with the origins of Cirque itself, as the company was formed by entrepreneurial street performers in Montreal just 20 years ago. But it's not a direct reflection of their own tale, Ruest.

"We create each show with a distinct personality and in its own universe."

Thematically, "Saltimbanco" is a show about the city; about urbanity. It's about people coming from the country into the big city. The hustle and bustle. The breaking apart of families and the forming of new ones.

For the audience, however, it's simply a visual, aural and mental feast. "Saltimbanco" is classic Cirque. There's Chinese poles, juggling, percussion instruments, Russian swing, bungees, trapeze and more - a cast of 47. There's live music to accompany the action, and a technical team 20 strong, though there's not so much special effects as a delicate balance of lighting and music and movement.

The costumes are a gluttony of colour and texture. Done in a Baroque style in magenta, cyan, yellow and green, Ruest describes the eye-popping textiles as "strong and luminous."

"It's spectacularly visual, that's for sure," she said. "Young children and old children will love it."

See Cirque Du Soleil Aug. 23-26 at Mile One Centre. There are two shows daily except Aug. 23.

Tickets are $35, $55 and $65 (tax included) plus applicable surcharge, and can be purchased at the Mile One box office; by phoning 576-7657, 1-800-361-4595 or online at www.mileonecentre.com. For more information, go to www.cirquedusoleil.com.

telyarts@yahoo.ca

Organizations: Cirque Du Soleil

Geographic location: St. John's, Montreal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments