Sunday, July 10, 2011

Running away to the 'Crique-ous'

I didn't know that Crique du Soleil was preforming in Edmonton until Wednesday night when we were at our latest Firefly class (contortion and stretching for beginners). Of course being in a class full of circus enthusiasts someone would have to know that Crique was in town and asked if anyone was going. On a whim at work on Thursday I decided to find out when the show was on, if there were tickets, etc., then emailed Andrew to see if he wanted to go. Within the half hour we'd purchased tickets for Dralion on Saturday night. One thing I'd neglected to do while investigating Cirque was find out what the show was about...but as we discussed on our way to the LRT, does it really make a difference? Do people go to Cirque shows for the story, no, probably not. They go to see people fly through the air in crazy costumes with crazy flexibility to lively music (interestingly enough, there was a Debaters show about this recently--the pro Crique side won).

So, the show. As I've learned in the course of writing this post Dralion is a combination of 'dragon' (representing the West) and 'lion' (representing the East), which would explain Andrew's comment that many of the performers appeared to be of Asian origin--I'll get to that in a bit. The show started with a set of modern day clowns (i.e. rather than wearing big shoes and red noses they wore vaguely suit-like outfits) goofing around with the audience. They had sort of a 'Sims-like' speech where they made vocalizations that sounded something akin to Italian, but I doubt were proper words. Eventually they pulled an 'assistant' up from the audience to read the safety warning for the show--except they then proceeded in interrupt him at every turn. They poked, prodded, and teased the poor guy before finally stealing his wallet and running off to the back stage area. Yeah, must have been a plant, right? And then the show began with a group number introducing the themes of the different groups (East v. West).

I don't remember all the details of the order of the show, so I'll just touch on the the individual featured artists, and couple of the group numbers without going into the long and gory details (after all, the order/storyline isn't that important, right?). I think I'm most impressed with balance/strength performers and so the first solo artist was probably my favourite of the night. The performance was done on what was essentially a five or six foot tall pole with a flat top on which the artist balanced. She probably spent the first half of the number on her right hand, showing incredible control and flexibility, then hopped to her left hand. Wow. Another performer who really impressed was a juggler--but also at the same time was something of an acrobat/gymnast. He juggled with up to 6 balls or clubs at once, using his feet at times, and performing various jumps/moves in between catches. He had a couple of bobbles, but carried on and covered over the mistakes well. A third solo artist performed on an aerial hoop. She demonstrated incredible flexibility, and at different points hung from just the back of neck and by her feet.

Most of the group numbers were presented by what I'm assuming was probably a Chinese troupe. They came out three times to present different skills. The first was very much a Chinese marshal arts-type number, combining the use  of tall (several metres) standards, flags, and acrobatics. Again there were a couple of small bobbles, but considering one performing did a back flip, while attempting to keep his standard upright, and managed to keep it from flying into the audience, I'd say it was still pretty impressive. The second number with the troupe had an African theme with tribal-like music (i.e. lots of drum beats) as they performed a series of flips, somersaults, etc., through hoops (probably all of less than a metre in diameter). The last one was different, it was a skipping number. Some times is was a single rope, sometimes double dutch, sometimes there were 3 ropes going (although not intertwining). Most impressive was when they did a 3-layered stacked human pyramid while skipping over a single robe, it was pretty crazy.

Another really interesting number used 2 trampolines, which were positioned against the back wall of the set. The wall had a couple of shelves (plus numerous handholds), one positioned on the lower 3rd of the wall, one in the upper third. The performers would dive from these shelves to the trampoline, and the male artists would even start at the very top, drop to the trampoline, then fly (sometimes with a single step to help them) right up to the top again. They even bounced from one trampoline to the other. It was quite neat--although at times difficult to track everything that was going on.

Before signing off, remember the group of clowns? The audience member did turn out to be a plant, although it took us a while to figure it out for sure. At one point he returned to a seat in the audience before being pulled back up on stage to assist the smallest (he was really short) of the clowns. The plant did a really good job of pretending to be flustered/embarrassed by being pulled up, which is part of why we couldn't figure out whether or not he was a part of the show. The clowns had a little number where they pretended to copy various performers who had been out all ready. They were ridiculous of course, prancing about pretending to be elegant, yet be incredibly clumsy. They were as much of a crowd pleaser as they other artists in the show.

Overall, we had a good time, and Crique was definitely much more fun than staying at home and watching a movie (not that there's anything wrong with that either). I also can't wait until the next time I can get on the trapeze, which will unfortunately be a couple of weeks since our class is now over and we'll have to wait two weeks before we're able to attend another drop-in session.



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