It took a bit of arm-twisting to get me to watch Cirque du Soleil on TV for the first time years ago, but once I did, I was hooked. I am amazed at the performers’ acrobatic skill and the beauty of their costumes. In person, the spectacle is even more impressive, as I discovered last night at the opening of Alegría in the Cedar Park Center, just north of Austin, Texas.
Last night, Feb. 17, was the first performance of the show, which will run through Sunday, Feb. 21.
The first thing that struck me about the show was the music. At first I thought they had to be playing recorded music, but no, they had an excellent band, playing a wide variety of styles, ranging from French cafe music to tangos. The White Singer, a woman dressed in a lacy white costume, had a gorgeous, slightly smoky voice.
The acrobats — trapeze artists, gymnasts and contortionists — performed moves that seemed impossible and sometimes impossibly dangerous. I know the performers are well-trained and have safety equipment, but some of the things they did made me gasp.
One of the acts that really stood out was a routine using the trampolines built into the stage. The performers did somersaults, danced, flipped over one another’s heads — they were going so fast, I was afraid they were going to fly off the stage into the crowd.
Another was a complicated trapeze routine where several performers shared a swing, with individuals leaping from the swing onto a platform, or off the platform into the hands of performers hanging down from the swing. I can’t really describe it. You’d have to see it for yourself.
Yet another was the moving human sculpture created by two very powerful, flexible girls (somehow the word contortionist doesn’t seem quite appropriate for something so beautiful).
Other highlights included the Hawaiian-style fire dance, the girl who performed a ribbon dance while twirling numerous hoops (I lost count at five) and the athletes balancing on flexible beams, leaping from one to another.
I know the Las Vegas venue has a lot of special features built into the stage and figured some of them might not be portable. I’ve never seen the Vegas show, so I can’t compare, but I certainly didn’t miss anything. They were able to work some almost magical changes with lighting, quick set changes by the performers, and mechanical features.
One neat thing I noticed (or rather, didn’t notice) was that the clown routines were so entertaining that when they were over, I would suddenly realize the stage was very different and I never saw the change happen.
And the clowns were pretty funny, especially the one with the guy wearing a horse suit and the routine involving a (fake) motorcycle and some paper planes. There were also a couple of clown routines that were creative and rather sad.
A couple of practical notes about the show:
1. It was a pretty entertaining show for kids. The friends who attended with me brought a 6-year-old girl and she was highly impressed by the acrobats and laughed at the clowns. I saw other children in the audience who also got a big kick out of it. They got tired and cranky toward the end, but I’d say it was worth taking them for the memories it will leave them with.
2. The floor seating looks like an awesome place to see the show, but be prepared to get a face full of stage smoke and confetti.
I was very fortunate to get a ticket to last night’s show. I figured it would be years before I would have such an opportunity. Was it a chance of a lifetime? I hope not, because I plan to see one of these shows again eventually, even if I have to drive to Sin City to do it.