Cirque du Soleil at 30: 'The show is the star'

Wed Jan 8, 2014 10:57am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - A man whose female partner balances the nape of her neck on the nape of his neck with her body sticking straight into the air sums up the amazing human feats Cirque du Soleil presents in a London show kicking off the troupe's 30th year.

Also on display during a month-long run of Cirque's evergreen 1996 production "Quidam" is a woman who drops herself from the heights of the Royal Albert Hall tangled up in a weave of scarlet silk that stops her just short of hitting the stage floor.

A bit later, rope artists spin around at dizzying speeds and a juggler shows up who doesn't seem to know that keeping a half dozen or more medium-sized red balls in the air at the same time must be impossible.

Millions of people have seen "Quidam" globally, but even some younger members of Tuesday's official opening night audience were back for a second or third viewing of the acts staged by 46 performers from 19 countries.

"It's incredible what they're doing up there, how they fight their fears," said Hugo Max, 11, of London, one of the many "Quidam" repeaters.

"I was totally shocked by all of them ... They're really good," said Maud Rutherford, 8, also of London.

Founded by street performers in the French Canadian province of Quebec in 1984, Cirque has become one of Canada's most famous exports. Touring shows play all over the world, and stage versions perform nightly in Las Vegas and other resorts.

"I think it is a wonderful card to give to everybody around the world. Cirque du Soleil for Quebec is a huge success," Luc Ouellette, the artistic director for "Quidam", told Reuters in an interview.   Continued...

Artists perform during a dress rehearsal for Quidam, a show by Cirque du Soleil, at the Royal Albert Hall in London January 4, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor