Cirque du Soleil performers taking on the Aerial Hoops in Quidam.
Few live performances are as riveting as Cirque du Soleil. Extraordinary feats that test the limits of the human body and spirit unfold in a riot of color and sound, as if pure imagination were distilled into a choreographed tonic. Cirque currently has 19 shows running worldwide, either as permanent mainstays, traveling under the Big Top or performing in an arena. These spectacles marry grace, brawn, flexibility and athleticism with acts stemming from traditional circuses, the gymnasium, aerial stunts and street performance. The troupe is set to leap into action in Southwest Florida as Quidam comes to the Germain Arena in Estero August 7 to 11.
One of Cirque’s travelling arena tours, Quidam is a cross between the grand resident shows so popular in Las Vegas, where automated stages, over-the-top sets and outlandish costumes add to the feats of the performers, and the traveling Big Top shows, which roam the globe with tent in tow to create a more intimate display with subtler stage animatronics and scenery—but still with magnificent and painstakingly detailed costumes. The arena tours capture the intimacy of the Big Top while allowing for complex staging and sets that transport audiences into a world like none other.
The story of Quidam centers around Zoé, a young girl bored by her apathetic parents, yet curious and excited about the world that seems just beyond reach. Unlike many of the shows in the Cirque portfolio, Quidam is not some fanciful land of exaggerated caricatures of humanoids; rather, it is a mirror of society here and now, with characters based on real humans, and the world in which they perform is the imagination of the young girl.
The characters represent the manifestation of Zoé’s inner self. John, the ringmaster, acts as a guide as she explores her imagination—the Jiminy Cricket, if you will, of Quidam. The Target is an act of energy, grace in motion, who is as much a shadow as a tangible personality. Boum-Boum encapsulates aggression and physical energy, though muted through lack of action. The Aviator is a work in progress. Affixed with a skeletal semblance of wings, he is not quite ready to fly, though well on his way.
|In the act Statue, two performers display amazing feats of strength and balance to create living, breathing art.|
Eleven acts of choreographed daring-do, contortion and circus feats makeup Quidam, each touching on what makes a Cirque show so special. An act as simple as skipping rope takes on a whole new life when staged by these performers—20 acrobats in all creating a choreographed beat with ropes flipping in a rhythm that seems otherworldly. Aerial acts like the Cloud Swing, Spanish Webs, Aerial Hoops and Aerial Contortion in Silk appear to defy the laws of physics while the graceful and powerful movements of the performers bend the limits of the human body—the Aerial Hoops act is most impressive, as acrobats twirl, pivot and spin in what can only be described as trapeze-ballet. The Hand Balancing and Statue acts display a level of strength, balance and grace unparalleled by even the most seasoned yogi as performers contort their bodies into a series of increasingly intricate positions. Circus acts like the Diablos (also known as the Chinese yo-yo) and juggling become ever complex as the ante is raised in a reimagining of these traditional routines into something fully Cirque.
|The German Wheel seems to defy the laws of physics as a performer spins and somersaults in a steel wheel with all the grace of a figure skater.|
For me, the two acts really set this show apart are the German Wheel and the Banquine. The German Wheel is wholly unique. An artist spins, twists and turns a large metal hoop into a dazzling array of somersaults, all while encircled within. It is quite a scene and truly awe-inspiring—just when you think the ring will fall flat, it spins with a renewed vigor, teetering on a razor-edge. The Banquine makes cheerleading flicks like Bring It On just look silly. A human pyramid on steroids, 15 performers create a flying, synchronized mass into an architectural marvel of humanity as subtle and over-the-top movements create an ever-evolving and mutating structure.
- Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam comes to the Germain Arena for eight performances August 7-11.
- Tickets range from $38.25 to $107.25.
- For more information or to purchase tickets, visit germainarena.com.
Images provided by Cirque du Soleil.