Who are our modern day superheroes? Where do you go if you want to see the human body pushed to extremes? What kind of performance combines the perfect blend of pure athleticism and artistic whimsy? It is all housed under the Big Top. It is the circus, of course.
I have finally done something I’ve been planning and looking forward to for 6 ½ years. That is how old my eldest daughter is. You know her as “Lady H”. We try to see a circus every couple of years for her birthday. We’ve seen “Big Apple” and “Ringling Bros.”, but I’ve been waiting for an opportunity, and for her to reach a maturity level to really appreciate the piéce de résistance of the circus world, Cirque Du Soliel.
Their current show is called “Dralion” which translates to “east meets west.” It is a combination of words — the dragon representing the east and the lion for the west.
Upon arriving to see the show at Philips Arena on Sat. Aug. 28th, there was a little snafu with our tickets. We were directed to the media entrance where we had to wait for the powers that be to iron out the wrinkle. It was a blessing in disguise. We were given a little tour of the inner workings of Philips arena, complete with performers in make-up and rehearsal clothes, the back stage area and their traveling kitchen. I think all of this might have been more exciting for Retired Performer Mama than child.
Upstairs, the house was set in a 3/4 round, more or less like a traditional circus. As the seats filled up, a large clown was warming up the crowd in gibberish… Italian style. He directed people to where they needed to be and chatted enthusiastically with them. A small clown with a squeaky voice joined him. He was a nervous chap who spent his time putting caution tape around random audience members. A third clown arrived with a really bad comb over. This guy was encumbered by a bowling ball stuck to his fingers.
This trifecta of funny guys dragged a poor unsuspecting man from the crowd. You could tell he was shy and didn’t want to be there. I found this irritating, because I would have given my writing hand to be up there. They made him read lines with a red nose on, stole his wallet, kidnapped him backstage and took his shirt off.
Right off the bat we know the show is an international delight. Four dancers represented four corners of the earth. There was a European ballerina trapeze artist in blue, representing the air. She worked with a giant blue ribbon hanging from the ceiling. At one point, a breath-taking flying duet materialized. Soon she wrapped herself up in a ribbon with a partner, holding on to each other while swinging in circles. This air dance revolved around a potential kiss.
An Indian dancer wearing green for water was the contortionists ring leader. She would move serpentine-like with elegantly place Mudras, while the others made bendy group shapes by counter balancing, supporting and climbing on each other. One section was devoted to a performer doing amazing splits and twists, upside down, on one arm about fifteen feet in the air.
A Chinese warrior was decked out in red for fire. His entourage was a troop of male acrobats and parade dragons and lions. The acrobats flipped and turned while holding and passing thirty foot poles.
[pro-player width=’530′ height=’353′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41YDUrgCG28[/pro-player]
Last and definitely not least, an African/Island dancer in brown depicted the earth elements. She travelled through the show with a Maori-like tribe of acrobats. At times they crawled or rolled on their bellies with skateboards, like lizards skittering across the space. They also jumped through stacked hoops with such precision barely missing one another, nearly knocking the whole cylindrical structure down.
In a traditional circus structure there is usually an everyman or woman character. Someone the audience can identify with, and this character generally goes through some kind of change throughout the show. In “Dralion” she was a pregnant elf.
Other major highlights were the Puck like juggler, who was the perfect modern dance/juggler hybrid, rolling on the floor as he tossed multiple balls and pins into the air. A trapeze artist worked with a hoop, dazzling us with her brute strength and daredevil moves. She even performed something similar to a Paso Doble with the Asian warrior. Finally, to end the show, the clowns came out in sloppy costumes making fun of the other performers. Oh…and there is a twist…I won’t ruin it for you…but there is a mysterious fourth clown.
The show at Phillips Arena is over, but if you missed it, don’t fret. They will also be performing this week in Duluth from August 31st to September 4th so hurry up and get your tickets. Going to see Cirque du Soliel live is something everyone has to do once in their life. If you have to, put it on your Bucket List. “Dralion” will not disappoint.
The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee
“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee
The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”
Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”
The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence
The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.
The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.
“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”
T. Lang: A Woman Searching
The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience. Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place. The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from. Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.
On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s performance of Post Up. The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings. The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison. An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through. The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.
The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent. Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.
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