Oh OVO Oh – Cirque du Soleil

The Cirque has Come to Town

Photo and blog by Robyn Wyman-Dill

January 2012

Congratulations!  You made it through the pearly gates of yesteryear into January 2012.   This marks the start of a new episode in everyone’s life story and the beginning of my…blah blah…blog.  Seeing that the core of my soul has a passion for the creative, I’m going to start deep in the heart of enchantment.

This happens to be ‘my own back yard’.  A playground for big tops and tiny dancers.  That’s right, folks.  Le Cirques have come to town.

If you want to treat your imagination to the happiest of times, Los Angeles is the place to indulge it.  Especially now.  We have been blessed with not one, not two, but three cirques from the CDS Enterprise this month.  The opening of  IRIS at the Kodak Theatre last September  even brought ‘that ol’ magic’ stuff back to Hollywood. This month, Santa Monica Pier will host OVO with Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL setting up at the Staples Center for three days in downtown Los Angeles.

Lucky for Los Angeles Cirque du Soleil decided to make its U.S. debut at the 1987 Los Angeles Festival.  The overnight success of their show  “Reinvent the Circus” endeared Founder and Visionary Guy Laliberté to our fair city from that moment forward.

I will never forget the first time I saw it.  The sky was grey that day – threatening to rain.  Not a good sign for an afternoon under the big top which turned out to be small – due to money.   Yet, there it stood.  A lone tent. Tucked in a corner of a parking lot in Little Tokyo.   It looked country medieval, rather plumb and anything but average.  My mood lifts as I stepped inside the keeper of joyful feelings.

Here the audience and performers become one.  Night after night. In celebration of beauty.

In comparison to where CDS is today, Reinvent the Circus, may seem humble pie but is it oh so not.  It is  a spectacle of brilliant costumes and acrobatic genius. Its light-hearted sentiment sends out a positive energy so intoxicating it could take the grey away.  Right out of the sky.  It made me feel very lucky, being witness to the first installment of an artistic heatwave warming up the planet.  I sensed a future made bright with happy spectators.

As my hunch predicted, Americans fell in love with this small company of 20+ street performers. Exhilarated by Californian’s public response and success, Laliberte spread his Cirque’s wings, creating one popular masterpiece after another.  Now in its twenty-eighth year, he continues to build a 5,000 employee creative empire on dreams.

Their repertoire of shows is testament to their remarkable story of a small artistic company of stilt walkers and acrobats who turned their creative passions into a global triumph.   Their enterprise brings a United Nations of performers together to produce the most provocative theatre of this century.  Once aboard, their skills and creativity thrive.  Laliberte then makes magic creating stories told in movements.   Call it poetry in motion. Like the fountain of youth, the effect on the senses is rejuvenating.

Cirque du Soleil is the true glory of 21st century art.  Yet, it is no highbrow affair reserved for the few.One hundred million viewers have attended its shows in over 40 countries on six continents.  On the other hand, to label it immensely popular is an understatement.

Feel the power of its imagination in OVO.  Here we step into a day in the life of a colony of bugs.  Insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a waltz of energy and movement. In my own research on the habits of insects for Clutters, Packs and Prides, I discovered a civilization beneath the soil’s surface that rivals Manhattan.  And to think they are just ants.

Dance, film, acrobats and animation take us on fantastic voyage through the history of cinema in a poetic construction/deconstruction piece entitled, IRIS.   Described as a ‘foray in the seventh art’ this version of movie-making is charming!  I can feel a heart beating in every sequence.  Hollywood icons mingle amongst vintage clips.  Cops and robbers, gangsters and crooks, guys and dolls – set genres in motion.  Illustration to animation, black and white film to color.  And let’s not forget, silent films to sound pictures. Our two young heroes – Buster and Scarlett – find themselves plunged into the joyful chaos of a film set where their escapades transport the spectator into a kaleidoscope of movement, moods and images. It is a spell bounding interpretation of the evolution of the Hollywood process.  Music by Danny Elfman.

I attended the premiere of IRIS last September.   The Kodak Stage – home of the Academy Awards shows – rolled out it red carpets and spit-shined its grand staircase entrance.  I will remember it as ‘the evening I soared through the air‘ fearlessly.  From the moment the lights dimmed, we transfixed our realities to follow a journey in time.  On the backs of a trapeze act, we soared – like birds – through the air.  For a person who is afraid of heights, it was most liberating to be free and fearless enough to explore the depths of air and dimensions of wonder.   I thank the acrobatic snowbirds for my flawless flight.

IRIS will remain in Hollywood for approximately ten years, earning Cirque du Soleil’s founder, Guy Laliberté a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

At the After-party James Cameron and his wife, Suzy graciously made themselves available to an awestruck crowd while members of the Mad Men cast sipped on martinis.  Everyone was in full festive throttle.  With a section of Hollywood boulevard now blocked off for our private entertainment, a ferris wheel assumed the head at the table of vendors.  Champagne bars standing by.  (On January 10, 2012, Paramount Pictures and Cirque du Soleil jointly announced that the studio acquired worldwide distribution rights to the Cirque du Soleil 3D feature film entitled “Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away”.   It will be executive produced by Academy Award ® winning filmmaker James Cameron.  The 3D film event features artistic and acrobatic performances from some of the most elaborate Cirque du Soleil productions).

THE IMMORTAL World Tour explores the imaginary world inspired by Michael Jackson and his music.I haven’t seen it yet but say “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” and I’m all pumped up.

I read that the show ends with the song “Man in the Mirror.”  I’m looking at the month in the mirror and  encouraging you to glide through the gates of January with your Cirque du Soleil stubs in hand.  We’ll catch up with you again in February when CUS collaborates with pop star Madonna at the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show.

While we’re waiting, I invite you to send comments and share your cirque du soleil moments.

Happy New Year!

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