Brian, Kameron, and I went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna yesterday afternoon. Brian had originally planned to see the show with his parents, but they unfortunately weren’t able to get to town this weekend. Kameron and I were the first to respond to his “who wants tickets?” email, so we had the pleasure.
It was a good show. The circus acts were fun, the aesthetics, as always, were beautiful and thoroughly planned out. Of course, the irony of seeing this particular Cirque show with two guys may become evident when you read the website’s description:
Amaluna invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by Goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon.
The “plot” of the show (and those of you who have seen Cirque work know why that goes in quotes) is essentially the romantic parts of The Tempest, although they did name the lovers Miranda and Romeo to distance the show from Shakespeare. If you ignore the moral that a girl can’t become a woman without a man, it was actually really interesting to see a show like this with a female-majority company. The band (who rocked) was all women. Even the clowns were women, although one of them cross-dressed as a sea captain (think Stephano and Trinculo). Unfortuantely, the clowns were not funny. Their bits were actually rather tedious to sit through and were thankfully limited to two scenes.
The Cirque ingenuity more than made up for it. One of the most beautiful moments in the show came when they dropped LED lights attached to feathers from the center ceiling. It was in blackout and the feathers, like maple seed pods, “helicoptered” the lights down to make small, spinning, slowly falling little white lights.
There was juggling, acrobatics, gymnastics, pole climbing, and other circus standards, all executed perfectly and in terrific costumes; but surprisingly the most riveting act was also perhaps the simplest: a woman balancing sticks of progressively longer lengths. She began with one the size of a twig, balancing it on the tip of a stick about as long as her arm. One by one she lifted the sticks from the ground using her feet and added them to her ever-growing, tenuously-balanced sculpture:
As the sticks got longer, the music gradually ended until the only accompaniment was her breathing, which we could hear from her mic. As she neared the end the audience was dying to clap, but everyone held back. It was one of those fascinating unspoken-rues-of-performing moments. We were all waiting for her signal. She balanced the sculpture on her head and spread her hands out from her sides at hip level. It was almost a “ta-da” move, but not quite. I knew that if she opened her hands fully, the audience would burst into applause, but that we wouldn’t make a sound as long as she kept her thumbs and fingers touching. She didn’t open her hands. So everyone held a collective breath as she raised the final branch from the floor to stand on end, then balanced the mobile on the tip of that branch. She touched it, steadied it, stepped away, and then smiled.
The crowd went nuts. Then she reached up, lifted off the first stick, and the whole thing fell to the floor in pieces.
Really, I loved watching the silent agreements between the performer and the crowd as much as the act itself.
I’m glad I had the chance to see the show while it was in town. I haven’t been to a Cirque show in a while, and it was a pleasure to see that they still live up to their reputation and that it still inspires me in my own work.