The Buzzing Circus

Basia Hamdeed

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“Butterflies” - Cirque du Soleil's Catherine Audy & Alexis Trudel rehears their graceful and wispy aerial routine (“Butterflies”) before the show. Photo by Mike Pach.
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Amidst the grass, the wildflowers, the dew – amidst the fallen trees and their hollowed trunks, and the mushrooms breaking through the ground – breathes the world of insects, minute and almost unnoticeable.

For us, their lives drum on like a stranger’s. We are unaware of their meddling, distracted from their chatter, and disinterested in their routines. And because we are so much larger than them, it is hard for us to be immersed in their sensory world apart from occasional nights of invisible cricket song, or an unexpected embrace from a spider’s web.

But there is so much vibrant complexity in their world that we miss.

Cirque du Soleil’s performance, Ovo, envelopes us in the motions of their existence with a display as magical and as provocative as the insects that inspired it. The artists transform their bodies, the stage becomes wild with brambles and webs – evolving into boisterous melodies and charming conversations between frantic beetle feet and waspy antennae.

Within the beautiful cacophony, the audience follows a story of a community of insects as they witness the approach of a mysterious egg known as Ovo, as it is carried on the back of a comical fly from mysterious whereabouts, and delivered to the center of the stage. The insects gather around in wonder, nervousness and excitement as this new addition visibly stirs their lives.

Ovo, meaning egg in Portuguese, originated as a touring big-top show in 2009 where it made its debut in Montreal, the headquarters for the theatrical production company. True to Cirque Du Soleil style, Ovo incorporates high energy acrobatics, whimsical music and choreography, and colorful interactions between talented artists portraying extra-ordinary characters who propel us in a lively display of the complexities and familiar emotion of the microcosm of insects. Pulling audible inspiration from Brazil’s vibrant culture through its composition of sound and song, Ovo brims with exotic characters which radiates across the stage from the live orchestra buzzing behind the backdrop’s facade to the seats occupied by eager audience members.

jbCM Magazine had the opportunity to step backstage of Ovo just hours before their opening night. As we were guided through the dark, hushed bowels of The Broadmoor World Arena the energy of the production’s inner-workings became apparent through the quiet dynamics of the set. Every aspect is organized like compartments of a hive. The artists divide up stage time for rehearsal in strict intervals, respecting the seriousness and need of each individual performer to have time to familiarize with the space and practice their routine on stage.

Being a touring stage show, it is imperative for the equipment as well as wardrobe, prop and rehearsal areas to follow the same set up from arena to arena so that each individual can flow effortlessly through the environment. Aiding the movement of productivity backstage are the support members and creative leaders that travel with the tour. They ensure that costumes and props are made with functionality in mind – not just aesthetic appeal (which was no easy task when trying to fashion operative human-sized grass hopper legs). They also ensure that choreography is refined and translated as effectively as possible, that music composition is clear and rhythmic, and that the audience remains absorbed and enchanted by the artistry from beginning to end, from performance to performance throughout the three days of their stay.

All that effort culminated into a perplexing and thoroughly immersive performance that ignited the minds and imaginations of the hundreds and thousands of people who came to participate in it.
Cirque du Soleil’s performance, Ovo, exudes every member’s effort in a beautiful mosaic of talent and soul. It extends as a conceptualized common ground between humanity and the pockets within our world that house creatures we live alongside as a charming story of love and transformation. bh

Photos by Mike Pach

Read in print issue 2017-10

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