Somehow, I’ve never been to a Cirque du Soleil show. Which seems ridiculous. I’m reading their wikipedia entry right now, and they’ve been around since 1984, and have been in the public spotlight since the early 1990s when they were finally profitable. 5% of all visitors to Vegas see one of their shows every night. That’s one in twenty. CRAZY. And I’d managed to not see any their productions live…until this past week.
My mom likes to take me to the theater for my birthday. And yes – my birthday was months ago, but we’ve been busy, and then a few weeks ago she said, “What if we went to Cirque du Soleil while it’s in town?” I agreed, because I’m not going to argue with a free theater outing. And I hadn’t been, and it looked interesting. I had an idea of what it would be because obviously when an entity is in the public eye for 25+ years, it has a reputation. I figured it would be odd acrobatic and crazy contortionist acts. I figured it would be fun.
I was BLOWN AWAY. There were 13 major acts throughout the evening, and they were terrific. There was a thread tying them all together very loosely, and this was an idea of a steampunk curiosity shop. I could literally sit here and recap all the acts for you, and I wouldn’t be doing them any justice, but let me talk about my awe and wonder related to three of them.
The first was called Rola Bola (which I didn’t know at the time because I didn’t buy a program, but thank goodness for the CdS website!), and featured an aviator character who first flew around, and then proceeded to balance on balls and cylinders which were placed under planks for his feet. I can describe it here, but you will likely not believe me when I say I gasped aloud, and actually said something to my mother at the time, “He can’t POSSIBLY stack the cylinders higher!” But he did. And it was incredible. My jaw was on the floor the entire time as I simultaneously gripped the sides of my seat.
The funniest thing I saw all night was a comedic act where a young woman was brought from the audience onto the stage, and invited into “the home” of the ringmaster/clown. He then proceeded to sit on the sofa with her and begin to “court” only to be interrupted by various creatures, most memorably a cat. I mean, I’ve seen my cat do all those behaviors, and the clown portraying them (Facundo Gimenez) was just impossibly good. I nearly fell off my seat laughing it was so hilarious to me. Perhaps it’s that funny even if you don’t have a cat, but as a cat-owner, it just killed me dead.
Finally, one of the more breath-taking and “big” feeling acts of the night was the one that kicked off the second act, and that was an exercise in holding your breath. The Kurios press kit describes it best when it says, “The net is tuned so that the artists standing on the surface can use their legs to modulate the amplitude of the bouncing motion, at times creating a slingshot effect that propels their teammates almost to the top of the big top.” It was in a word, crazy. And it was an act that I felt particularly tuned in to because for a bachelorette party last January, a group of us went and did a trapeze class. Obviously it’s not quite the same, and I was not any good, but I do have experience falling from a height onto a bouncy net, and sweet Lord, the way those guys bounced WAY UP HIGH gave me flashbacks. I felt my heart flying up and down my ribcage just from sitting in the audience.
I could go on. The contortionists! The upside-down world! The yo-yo master! The hand theater! The acrobats! ALL SO GOOD. I feel like it was definitely worth the time and the money. There’s a lot of commercialized things both outside and inside the tent that are trying to part you with more of your money that evening, but it’s a business. Go ahead. But I was not particularly intrigued by a $10 beer. Instead, I think if I go back (when I go back…) to a Cirque du Soleil show in the future, I’ll do what I did this time again. I’ll eat a sensible dinner, and not be hungry or thirsty for anything except having my breath taken away.