A captivated audience gazes intently at the synchronized aerial act being performed by acrobats on the trapeze- and also at the ‘fire-knife dancing,’ ‘handbalancing,’ ‘Russian bars,’ ‘fast track,’ and ‘flying man’ all to ensue later on in the show. The fixed gapes and stares are common, for this is Cirque du Soleil, a sole, distinctive circus performance of its own.

This festive, unique take on the circus experience was all started in 1982 when a group of young street performers all got together to entertain audiences and enjoy themselves doing so. In 1984, Cirque du Soleil was formed in a small town near Quebec City with a staff of 73 people. Today, Cirque employs more than 2,700 people worldwide, of 40 nationalities and 25 different languages. There are currently nine different shows, five of which are touring and four of which are resident shows in locations such as Las Vegas and Orlando.

Alegria, which means jubilation in Spanish, is the name and theme of the show.

Alegria is a mood, a feeling, a state of mind. This theme serves as the backdrop through which the characters of Alegria play out their lives.

Cirque is an unconventional take on circus arts and theatrical performances, intertwining the troupe’s origin of street entertainment and comedic skits. At first glance, what sets Cirque apart goes unnoticed. One step into the big top and you’re immersed into a fantasy world whose atmosphere encompasses and engulfs you so much that you’re not thrown off by the absurd, one-of-a-kind costumes or the lack of animals in the ring.

The different ensembles of the circus test and exemplify the artists’ skills such as strength, agility, flexibility, coordination, and perseverance. The show opens up with a bona fide French boy, most likely shy of being seven, welcoming the audience in French to the most spectacular show. The show’s storyteller is also its vocalist throughout the show, singing of alegria and of the characters’ lives in French. The opening act is appropriately titled ‘fast track,’ in which a dozen or so acrobats tumble into the air, somersaulting nimbly, and gracefully landing on the mat to the astonishment of the crowd. Other acts include ‘fire-knife dancing,’ in which an agile performer tosses and balances a fire lit knife as he tumbles on the ground. In ‘Russian bars,’ acrobats somersault mid air from one weight bearing bar to another, perched on the shoulders of performers. In ‘flying man,’ a performer literally flies through the air gripping on to a long, elastic sash hung from the center of the big top.

These acts are merely highlights of what the evening’s events entailed. The jovial comedic sketches dispersed throughout the show prove amusing as well as the incessant clapping much deserved. Cirque du Soleil truly leaves audiences astonished and speechless as the two and a half hour event quickly comes to an end, leaving one wanting more.

This otherworldly circus is on its North American Tour and currently residing in Miami. Alegria will be here until February 8th, so scurry and grab tickets to the one cirque show you definitely don’t want to miss.

For more info check out the site at www.CirqueDuSoleil.com.

Christie Asencio can be contacted at c.asencio@umiami.edu.

Christie can be contacted at c.asencio@umiami.edu.

February 3, 2004


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.