CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S KURIOS–CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
What is there left to say about any Cirque du Soleil production?! Each one is perfection! And Kurios, its 35th production (!!!), is no different.
My friend Lucia and I saw it last week-end, and, to no one’s surprise, absolutely loved it! As we left the tent, she pondered why anyone would ever see any other circus show, which is quite the compliment. Even when I was in a big traveling circus myself, (don’t ask,) I could have never envisioned what the Cirque empire has become. There’s never a weak link.
On top of how great the show itself is, (which I’ll get to in a sec,) the whole atmosphere is magical. I always love seeing the Grand Chapiteau, the iconic blue-and-yellow tent that houses the whole shebang. I get so excited as I approach it, as I have a feeling everyone (with a soul) does.
Speaking of approaching, Lucia and I were shocked at how easy it was to get to Dodger Stadium! All we West Side-ers were disappointed that Cirque didn’t return the Santa Monica Pier this year, where it’s really easy for us to get to. But I understand that they moved it to Dodger Stadium to make it more centralized for everyone in LA. (I guess they weren’t caring about just my friends and me.)
But we went there last Friday night, and it really took us under an hour. On a Friday night! With no speeding! I had erroneously thought that Kurios would be on the field of the Stadium, and we’d have to hike all the way from the parking lot, which would taken another ten to fifteen minutes. So we were happy to discover that it was actually in the parking lot, and the parking, though a tad pricey, was incredibly easy, as well. What a pleasure all that was.
We were glad that we arrived so early because just walking around the inside of the tent is fascinating. There are so many spots to take colorful selfies, there are a lot of fun concessions, and even the people-watching is great. And, if you go to your seat then, some of the cast members are already working the crowd. So, please go early enough to enjoy the full Cirque experience.
Now to the show itself:
Kurios is all so clever, right from the get-go. This one has a bit of a different look from some of their previous shows, in that so many of the accoutrements seem to appear in sepia tones, rather than the incredibly colorful ones of the past. It’s all just as stunning as ever, though, especially the brilliant costumes, designed by Philippe Guillotel. I’d like to live in his mind, if only for an hour or so. It must be gorgeous in there!
The set, designed by Stéphane Roy, is equally spectacular. And utilitarian, to boot! (And, it features my favorite number, 11:11, prominently at the top back of the stage, upon which I made many wishes during the show. Mainly, that I get to see Kurios again soon!!! When it finally turns to 11:12, you know the show is just about over. Pouty face.)
And the Cirque folks, led this time by newbie Michel Laprise, who wrote and directed Kurios, really know just how to build a show, which is so admirable. It’s all miraculous from start to finish, but it appears that each act naturally flows from the ones that came before. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, the show continues to amaze. (They had me from the onset, when a duo, as part of the group opening, did table hand percussion/dancing in unison, if only for a minute.)
As always, the cast is international, with talent from Cirque’s native Canada, along with peeps from the United States (yay us!,) Europe, South America, and even Australia and Japan. At times, I felt like I was watching the Olympics, (which you know is my favorite thing in life.)
And the musicians added the perfect touch to the proceedings. They kept it all moving, while not being intrusive. Major kudos to them.
[Note: I believe that the acts and performers can vary from performance to performance, so I don’t want to say that the line-up I saw is definitive. But I think it’s pretty darn close.]
Kurios is subtitled Cabinet of Curiosities, and that it is–they put a new twist on everything they proffered. For example, the act “Acronet” was one of the most innovative circus acts I’ve ever seen. The whole set was acrobats doing what we usually see for just a second at other circuses—the athletes jumping down into the safety net to then exit. Since I was little, I’ve loved seeing the men bounce around on the net, and wish they’d do it more. But even I never envisioned them doing it…as the whole act! It was beyond brilliant! Lucia and I both adored it; we think the characters are supposed to be fish, and she commented that she “didn’t even have to suspend my disbelief that there was no water in front of them!” I seriously didn’t want that act to stop!
Another twist was that instead of having a girl perform on the trapeze or silks, there was Anne Wessbeicker doing all that…on an aerial bike! OMG. And even the lighting guys have to climb a pole!
Constantly ground-breaking, Kurios even features a guy, Tomonari Ishiguro, doing yo-yo tricks. His is perhaps the weakest act, but it’s still fascinating to witness someone doing that in-person. Very impressive.
I was in awe of James Eulises Gonzalez Correa’s “Rola Bola” balancing act. (But sadly for me, this kind of entertainment is the reason Mr. X won’t come with me to these shows anymore—danger acts such as this one cause him too much worry. But the rest of us love them! Especially in the skilled hands [and feet and bodies] of Cirque performers.) I think I held my face in fear the whole time, in an admiring way. I don’t know how what he does is even humanly possible.
And the multiple-person acrobatic act, “Banquine,” was breathtaking. They were throwing each other around on their wrists!!! As someone who has had multiple carpel tunnel surgeries, it’s really a mystery to me how they can support each other that way.
One of the highlights for Lucia (and me, as well, actually) was the three lady contortionists from Russia. She said, “I thought the way their costumes interacted with the shapes they put their bodies in was amazing.”
But the whole time, Lucia wanted to see everyone’s abs. (I think that’s not out of prurient interest, but rather, because she’s a fitness nut, and is pregnant, so hasn’t seen hers in about six months. And trust me, I can’t help her out in that category!) She finally got her wish when the two Tomanov brothers, on aerial straps, gave her an eyeful! That should last her at least until the baby is born, (and then some!)
I have to admit that I’ve not been a fan of the clown acts that Cirque usually serves up. But David-Alexandre Despres is the best clown they’ve ever had! As a major cat-lover, Lucia especially enjoyed his “very realistic,” spot-on house-cat impressions. Even a feline-eschewer such as myself understood exactly what he was portraying, and guffawed along with the rest of the assemblage.
They’re all wonderful, but I want to leave it for you to experience Kurios for yourself. If you’re a fan of superior entertainment, do yourself a favor and make sure not to miss it here in LA, or when it travels to your city. (All details are on the website below.)
[One last note: My literal mind always needs everything in life explained to me, in non-magical terms. But Cirque is the one exception. I just like to enjoy it, and admire that the entire production is designed around a theme, whether or not I totally understand what that is. But, if you’re like my usual self, and really want to know just exactly what you’re witnessing, here is the official description of Kurios, as supplied in the press release:
“KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is a tale in which time comes to a complete stop, transporting the audience inside a fantasy world where everything is possible. In this realm set in the latter half of the nineteenth century, reality is quite relative indeed as our perception of it is utterly transformed. The name of the show refers to the humble and strange characters that inhabit the Seeker’s Cabinet of Curiosities.”
It continues: “In an alternate yet familiar past, in a place where wonders abound for those who trust their imagination, a Seeker discovers that in order to glimpse the marvels that lie just below the surface, we must first learn to close our eyes. In his larger-than-life curio cabinet, the Seeker is convinced that there exists a hidden, invisible world – a place where the craziest ideas and the grandest dreams lie waiting. A collection of otherworldly characters suddenly steps into his makeshift mechanical world. When the outlandish, benevolent characters turn his world upside down with a touch of poetry and humor in an attempt to ignite the Seeker’s imagination, his curios jump to life one by one before his very eyes.”
Hope that clears it all up!
Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios–Cabinet of Curiosities running though February 7, 2016
Dodger Stadium www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios