Cirque du Soleil has attracted tens of millions of visitors from every continent to its shows, which present performers in every circus discipline. Cirque du Soleil is more than the sum of its shows, however. It is also the thousands of employees and technicians, originators, costumiers, props designers, accountancy acrobats, marketing jugglers and management trapeze artists who travel the planet, developing their evolving mission as creators, performers and global citizens.
My first Cirque Du Soleil experience was under the big top in Santa Monica in the early 90’s. Nouvelle Experience was an eye-popping, awe-inspiring event that would change me forever. The bright, colorful, surrealistic costumes, the amazing aerialists, acrobats and clowns was something the likes I had never seen. My parents were visiting from the Midwest and that’s all we talked about for the rest of their trip. From that moment on, when the Cirque was in town, I was there, like a kid in a candy shop waiting for the newest treat. It was with this great sense of excitement and anticipation that I went back to the Santa Monica Pier to see the newest Cirque Du Soleil show OVO. I had butterflies in my stomach. I was about to embark on another great new adventure that would transport me to another time and another world.
OVO is a new Cirque Du Soleil production, and is yet another masterful creation of theatrical storytelling. OVO is a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The insects' home is a world of biodiversity and beauty filled with noisy action and moments of quiet emotion. When a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives. It seems oddly familiar, and yet a mystery at the same time. The name OVO means “egg” in Portuguese. This timeless symbol of the life cycle and birth of numerous insects represents the underlying thread of the show. Graphically, OVO hides an insect in its name. The two “Os” represent the eyes while the letter “V” forms the nose.
OVO features many acrobatic acts including a stunning Flying Act where six flyers fly as high as 14 m, making this act the biggest of its kind ever presented under a Grand Chapiteau by Cirque du Soleil. This act is the most difficult in the world to execute in terms of the distance between stations. It combines many circus disciplines, banquine, Russian swing and swinging chair. The finale features 20 artists running, jumping and leaping straight up an 8-meter vertical wall. Acrosport combines elements of dance, acrobatics, athleticism and sheer agility, five yellow and-red fleas fling themselves through the air and come together in graceful, perfectly balanced sculptural formations. The hardest working insects in the community are the bright red Ants. As soon as they’re awake they spend their day gathering food. On the menu today is kiwis and corn. But it’s not all work they play with their food too, with their feet in an astonishing display of precision juggling that climaxes with ants juggling ants, juggling food.
Next comes Creatura, part slinky, and part insect. The Creatura dances to a tune that is all his own. He’s a bendy, twisty knot of stretchy limbs in constant motion. Every time the Creatura moves or folds into itself you’re caught in complete amazement. How are they doing that? Once again Cirque has created an amazing character with a life all its own. Diabolos is a mix of high-speed diabolo and seemingly impossible juggling a firefly sends one, two, three and finally an astonishing four spinning spools arcing very high in the Grand Chapiteau and back to earth in perfect coordination. Up and down, round and round in a seamless choreographed juggling presentation.
Slackwire is a tour-de-force performance in which a spider defies gravity and physics in a succession of seemingly impossible feats of strength and balance as he traverses a wire that appears to give him no support. At one point he hangs at a 45-degree angle over the ground, some 15 feet below, and he tops that with an upside-down unicycle act. And the wire is in almost-constant motion up and down and swinging right to left, adding to the degree of difficulty. OVO’s big finale is Wall, which features some 20 artists running, jumping, and walking across and straight up an 8m vertical wall without artificial support. Power track and trampolines give them the speed, lift and momentum to take flight. Their athletic ability, physical strength and team coordination take care of the rest.
The use of comedy improvisation has always worked well with the Cirque Du Soleil shows. They pride themselves on a healthy dose of humor, selecting unsuspecting audience members to incorporate into their comedic stylings. The problem with OVO is that since all the characters are insects, they can’t talk, so the sounds and verbal communication is in Gibberish. This is mildly humorous for a short period time and then becomes monotonous. At certain points in the show, the main character actually says a few words in English. Huh? Some of these gibberish exchanges between the characters go on way too long, in fact, one bit takes up so much time in the show, they could easily fit another entire act and still have time left over for some comedy relief. That being said, it wasn’t distracting enough to affect the show, it was just disappointing in the fact that most other Cirque shows pride themselves on the comedy element. In OVO, however it falls incredibly short.
Overall, OVO is an amazing live circus event that should not be missed. It brought me around full circle to when I went to the Cirque with my family for the first time. It always amazes me how the shows creators can keep coming up with new themes and ideas, but they do. The traveling show is sponsored by Infinity and offers patrons a free picture of themselves with one of the smiling Cirque characters. You can then access the picture online for free. Once again, Cirque Du Soleil has created a show that your whole family will enjoy. But don’t wait, this incredibly creative work of gymnastic and acrobatic art will only be playing in Santa Monica until March 20th 2012. Get your tickets as quick as you can before OVO, Cirques insect themed infestation flies away for good. Once you’ve seen OVO and you get the bug (pun intended) to see another Cirque Du Soleil show, you can drive to Hollywood and Highland to catch IRIS: A journey through the world of cinema.
For more information or to see a glimpse of all the Cirque Du Solei shows at go to the website, www.cirquedusoleil.com