By Mike Keenan
Strength, power, balance, agility ‒ I have long thought that gymnasts are the best all-around athletes in the world. Corteo, Cirque de Soleil’s (Circus of the Sun), dazzling performance last night at the Meridian Centre confirmed it.
Guy Laliberté, Gilles Ste-Croix and their friends cherished a wild dream ‒ to create a Québec circus and take the troupe travelling around the world. The dream began with group of 20 street performers in 1984 and has become a major Québec-based organization that provides high-quality artistic entertainment. The company now boasts 4,000 employees, including 1,300 artists from more than 50 different countries. Cirque has brought wonder and delight to close to 155 million spectators in more than 300 cities in over forty countries on six continents. And St. Catharines is on the list!
Chandeliers was the first of many exciting acts, and it featured three women, Julie Dionne (Canada), Sante D’amours Fortunato (Canada), Aurélie Deroux-Dauphin (France), former loves of a Dreamer Clown (Mauro Mozzani (Italy), who is the narrator/performer who incites the action. They perform aerial acrobatics on three giant floating chandeliers. Throughout the evening, the aerial equipment and its intricate control was amazing to behold as myriad bodies that included angels and equipment were transported high above the stage.
This was followed by Bouncing Beds, young kids playing in their grandparents’ room, six artists performing acrobatic feats on two 600-pound trampoline beds, followed by Cyr Wheel with solos and group figures on spinning ring-like giant wheels.
One of my favourite acts was Suspended Pole, featuring Stephanie Ortega (France), who executed contortion-like shapes while flying on a suspended pole. Wow! Her lithe, muscular body was a pleasure to watch.
There were several items of comic relief worked in. One was Golf with a patch of green, suggesting a golf course and The Giant Clown, intent on giving it his best shot. But Helium Dance was my favourite with the diminutive little Clowness Valentina Paylevanyan (Ukraine), floating throughout the arena, assisted by the audience.
In Hula-Hoop, Sante D’amours Fortunato (Canada) astounds us with her ability to spin and twirl a multitude of hoops, using her entire body and all her limbs, and in Teeterboard, artists bounce through the air, the motif maintained in Paradis, superimposing a trampoline net and two Korean double stations into a high-flying and breathtaking act.
There are circus standards that are worked in such as the musical Crystal Glasses And Tibetan Bowls and phenomenal juggling by Svetlana Tsarkova (Russia) and Johan Juslin (Finland), but my other favourite was the Acrobatic Ladder with Slava Pereviazko (Ukraine) performing stunts on two ladders, executing unnerving balance as he tries to reach an angel, watching from above.
In Duo-Straps, Botakoz Bayatanova (Uzbekistan) and Oleksandr Kunytskyi (Ukraine) use aerial straps to create a magical and tender connection that enchants with beautiful displays of agility, balance and strength and Tournik completes the evening with horizontal bar techniques mixed in with circus arts.
There were no elephants or lions, but who cares. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® and The Greatest Show On Earth® are ancient history. Cirque de Soleil is superb theatre that drew an enthusiastic standing ovation from the delighted audience. Both sides of the packed arena enjoyed a rotating stage offering close-up, unimpeded views of the performers. The show lasts two hours with a 20-minute break, and you should add it to your “must-see” list.
Link to tickets: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/corteo
Remaining performances: July 13, 2018 @ 3:30pm, July 13, 2018 @ 7:30pm, July 14, 2018 @ 3:30pm, July 14, 2018 @ 7:30pm, July 15, 2018 @ 1:00pm, July 15, 2018 @ 5:00pm
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