Cirque du Soleil

Mary P. took me to see Cirque du Soleil last weekend. (One of her readers sent her free tickets! She wrote up the story here.)

The Cirque du Soleil is not only perfect, it’s Canadian, too (to steal a line from a T-shirt).

Internationally celebrated circus/theatre company based in Montreal, Quebec, and founded in 1984.

It was formed by a group of street performers who performed 50 shows on tour in eleven cities in Quebec as part of the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s landing. Their symbol, a tent with a blue and yellow top, is still part of the Cirque’s image. …

Its trademarks are two: no animal acts and a heightened aesthetic quality. The shows are as beautiful as they are exciting.

A circus/theatre company; shows as beautiful as they are exciting. Precisely!


Delirium was the show we saw. The guy suspended from the balloon was the protagonist, experiencing the delirium.

stilts and mallet

Every circus must have its clown, and this fellow on stilts — here holding a mallet! — was the Delirium version. He was more central to the plot (such as it was) than the ostensible protagonist.

one curtain ... or two?

You think you’re looking at a curtain. And in fact you are, but not the way you think.

A long white curtain was drawn the length of the stage. (In fact, two — one on either side of the stage, with the performers in between them.) The curtain was transparent enough that you could see the performers through it, since they were brightly lit. But the curtain was also opaque enough that they could project images onto it.

In this case, they’ve projected an image of a curtain on the curtain! No doubt the tableau expresses something profoundly philosophical about the subjective nature of reality.

music over my head

But never mind philosophy! Back to what really matters:  aesthetics!

Delirium was part rock show, part rock video (because of the projected images), part dance …. The woman in the white dress was onstage a lot, doing something part way between dance and Tai Chi. Most of the time, she was off to one side of the main action.

feat of strength

… and part acrobatics (another nod to the circus part of the circus/theatre equation).

This isn’t a great photograph, since I caught the acrobats before they were fully in position, but you get the idea. Three men, supporting themselves on one hand each, holding the trunks of their bodies parallel to the stage, while also supporting the weight of a fourth man balanced on their free hands.

hoop woman

But the highlight of the show may have been the hula hoop woman. At one point she balanced on one foot while holding the other leg straight up, beside her face. She twirled a hula hoop above her head with that leg, while twirling two more hula hoops: one of them with her arm, perpendicular to the ground. It was a “pat your head while rubbing your tummy” kind of trick, with better visuals.


I posted another photo of this performer here. I love the aesthetics of these photographs. And that’s the part of the Cirque I enjoyed most. Good music, good circus acts, while the visuals continually shifted from one stunning tableau to the next.

taking a bow

Time for a well-deserved standing ovation!

I used a couple of the same photos as Mary P., but she used three others that don’t appear above.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ozymandias
    Dec 07, 2006 @ 13:41:07

    That looks pretty cool.


  2. Carolyn
    Dec 13, 2006 @ 10:58:09

    The Boyfriend and I went to Quidam a couple months ago (Cirque du Soleil donated 60 tickets to my organization for our staff and clients. That’s a lot of $100.00 tickets!) I saw Dralion a couple years ago. I liked Dralion better – but it may have been because it was my first experience with it. Both were amazing and I would go to any that stop through St. Louis. Glad you had the opportunity to go.


  3. Stephen
    Dec 13, 2006 @ 20:18:06

    Hi, Carolyn! I thought of you when I was looking at these photos: mostly because the larger-than-life tableaus would fit in very well at Burning Man.


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