Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review: Run Away with Cirque du Soleil's KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities

All Photos: Martin Girard / shootstudio.ca
Costumes: Philippe Guillotel  © 2014 Cirque du Soleil

Who hasn’t wanted to run away with the circus at some point in their lives? The ephemeral world created under the big top has always managed to entice with the glamour of its imaginary delights. Acrobats and elephants, beautiful people flying through the air, and the side show of unimaginable curiosities - they are all part of the ultimate escape from an otherwise ordinary world to a place where the extraordinary exists.

Even as a child in my tiny town of 350 people in the Midwest, I can remember the traveling circus that would come through once a summer. They set up in the park - and even though it consisted of only a couple on a trapeze, a single bareback rider, a clown, and a sideshow (with a very fierce gorilla and a few bottled “monstrosities”) it was still like magic to my 6 year old eyes.

Today the reigning kings and queens of the circus are the world-famous troupe, Cirque du Soleil. Hard to believe they began in the early 1980s as a small group of street performers who entertained the locals and tourists of Baie-Saint-Paul on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

Since then, Cirque has completely reimagined the circus, theatricalized it, and morphed it into its own magnificent art form. Each show gives us a world we’ve never seen before and, as it draws us in, we become like children all over again, ready to run away - at least in our imaginations - to the circus.


In KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities, Cirque’s latest production on display at Dodger Stadium, science meets art in a Seeker’s (Anton Valen) steampunk-like fantasy world. Here we travel to a place where imagination creates all things, bringing to life the inhabitants of his cabinet of wonders in the most whimsical of ways.

There is the aviator (James Eulises Gonzalez Correa) whose flying machine opens up to become a platform for his rola bola cylinders and boards, stacked higher than it seems anyone could possibly balance upon. Just when you think you’ve seen him do it all, his platform lifts and begins to swing back and forth high above the stage and you are certain you’ve witnessed the impossible.

A duo springs to life on the Chinese Pole (Maude Arseneault and Mikaël Bruyère-L’Abbé) in a series of vertical tricks and drops that would seem to defy the laws of gravity and an aerial bike is the trapeze of choice for a young woman’s athleticism (Anne Wessbeicker) high in the air.

Contortionists (Bayarma Zodboeva, AyagmaTsybenova and Khaliuka Narankhuu) slither over and under each other atop a giant mechanical hand which is an amalgam of objects collected from the Seeker’s travels. A dinner party presents itself as the setting for one of the guests (Andreii Bondarenko) to display his chair balancing abilities to the amazement of the rest of the diners. As his stack of chairs grows taller and taller, they gasp as they realize an exact duplicate of their party is happening directly above them, only upside down.

And the most beautiful of all, Siamese Twins (brothers Roman and Vitali Tomanov) soar through the stratosphere using aerial straps in a series of synchronized movements that are both breathtaking and dangerous. It is these kinds of feats that demonstrate what the human body is capable of that make Cirque productions so very special.

Also overhead is a thrilling display of acrobats on an Acronet stretched across the full stage catapulting sea creatures up into an airborne underwater show filled with unexpected humor. Equally as amazing is the Banquine act, synchronized acrobatics on the floor of the stage that create human pyramids and sequences that again present feats of physical daring with astounding precision.

To complement these extraordinary talents are two comedy acts (both featuring David-Alexandre Despres), one that pays homage to circus history with his Invisible Circus, a mechanical marvel of timing and surprise, and another that reveals his expertise with physical comedy. In this scene he brings a young lady from the audience on stage to join him for a date at home. While the not-so-smooth Romeo goes to get them drinks, his hilarious cat takes over. This one you’ve got to see to believe.

Two other acts are wonderful examples of director Michel Laprise’s return to ideas that represent the heart of Cirque, which is to grab the audience and create an emotional connection with its invention. Yo-yos dressed up as watches are manipulated by an artist (Tomonari Ishiguro) who spins them faster than you’ve even seen before, straight up in the air, around and about as easily as if time itself stops to make it possible. The other is theatrical storytelling by a pair of hands (Nico Baixas) filmed in real-time and shown on a hot air balloon that floats overhead. Poetry in motion, it too is funny, sweet, and imaginative in its progression through its tale.

Other assorted oddball characters emerge to further create the colorful life of this cabinet of curiosities in motion. Costume designer Philippe Guillotel incorporates a myriad of elements culled from the industrial era into his fanciful creations while Stéphane Roy’s retro-mechanized set design of gears and recycled parts gives new life to repurposed outdated items. The score, written by composers Raphaël Beau and Bob & Bill and sung by Eirini Tornesaki is as haunting as ever.

KURIOS is an astonishing adventure into a world without limits where you’ll fall in love with every one of its curious characters. It is an emotionally rich experience - one that is sure to stimulate your own imagination and make you believe the impossible is possible.


Additional artists:
Acronet: Mathieu Hubener, Karl L’Ecuyer, Ryan Shinji Murray, Victor Degtyarev, Arnaud Caizergues, Jack Helme, Nathan Dennis

Banquine artists: Igor Strizhanov, Elena Kolesnikova, Roman Polishchuk, Serguei Okhai, Nikolay Atashkin, Sergey Kudryavstev, Roman Kenzhayev, Alexey Starodubsev, Ekaterina Evdokimova, Anton Lyapunov, Dimitri Parmenov.

Characters: Ekaterina Pirogovskaya (Klara), Nico Baixas (The Accordion Man), Karl L’Ecuyer (Mr. Microcosmos), Antanina Satsura (Mini Lilli)

Chaos Synchro 1900 Opening: Gabriel Beaudoin, Christa Mercey, and Kit Chatham

Musicians: Marc Sohier (band leader, bass, double bass), Kit Chatham (drums), Christa Mercey (percussions), Michael Levin (cello, keyboard), Lydia Kaminska (accordion, keyboard), Paul Lazar (violins), Patrick Kelly (guitars)

KURIOS: CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
Dec. 9, 2015 - Feb. 7, 2016
Dodger Stadium
1000 Elysian Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios or 1-877-924-7783

Photos: Martin Girard / shootstudio.ca Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil














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