Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities

Last night I went to one of *the best* Cirque du Soleil shows I have ever been to.  Over the last few years, it has felt a bit like Cirque has changed their format with the highly narrative Amaluna and then that bloody awful Toruk crap, but with Kurios, it feels like they have come back to their creative roots with a show that is a synthesis of various circus styles with a very cool late 19thC steampunk theme.

The show is based on a character called The Seeker who is trying to invent a time-machine that can travel between dimensions to a place where the impossible and the possible can meet.  The other main characters are Nico the Accordion Man, Mr Microcosmos who embodies technological advancements, and Klara the Telegraph of the Invisible who can pick up alpha waves with her hoop skirt (pictured below).

The characters are as engaging as the music is beguiling – the main vocal performance by Sophie Guay is a funky jazz, blended with some sort of electro-swing (?) sort of thing that runs through the whole show.  She literally sings for the entire show and gives an amazing performance.

The various acts are what we have come to expect (read: love and enjoy), from Cirque.  A series of vignettes in the steampunk theme that follow the explorations of the Seeker expressed in creative aerial performances and acrobatics, all with immaculately timed and choreographed dances, visually stunning costumes, wild makeup and an amazing array of props.

The incredibly talented contortionists are often a highlight, and these four girls were unbelievable on a huge mechanical hand that must have been about 16′ across.  They are just mesmerising to watch as they pose in all sorts of weird and wonderful positions.I won’t give away too much other than to say there is an amazing Russian cradle duo, some very strong and talented, ‘Siamese Twins’ on aerial straps, a couple of absolutely gravity-defying balancing acts, and a beautiful and cleverly presented hand puppetry scene.  I loved all of it!

The Seeker surrounded by the cast as the show heads into the finale.  

I can’t recommend this show highly enough.  It has probably shifted into being my second favourite Cirque show of all time (behind ‘O’ – ‘O’ is likely to remain the ‘most unique’ theatrical experiences of my life, I think… I’ve never seen anything even remotely like it).  Dralion is still right up there too, though.  🙂

Unfortunately for everyone back home, Kurios is unlikely to be in Australia any time soon – it is currently scheduled to be in Japan for most of 2018 and 2019, but I for one will definitely be looking forward to seeing it again when it does finally come Down Under.


Cirque du Soleil – Toruk the First Flight

Okay, so anyone who’s been reading here for a while would be aware that I absolutely love the Cirque du Soleil.  I have seen over 15 productions on three different continents and take every opportunity to see any of the touring shows that come to town.

Recently, Toruk: the First Flight came to Brisbane.  Curiously it was being held at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre – a huge venue that is often used for rock concerts and sporting events – rather than under the trademark Cirque du Soleil, Grand Chapiteau.  Usually, the touring shows do a global tour in the Grand Chapiteau and sometime before they are about to be retired, they will tour a limited number of cities in arena venues – but Toruk is a fairly recent production so it is unusual that it was coming to the arena when it hadn’t been under the big top.  We didn’t really spend too much time wondering why Toruk… the Cirque was coming to town so of course, we would want tickets anyway (but perhaps we should have…).

Sadly, these were some of the most expensive Cirque tickets we have ever bought – about $200 per person (they just keep getting dearer and dearer), but we chose our seats as best we could, based on the floor plan provided, and hoped for the best.  November rolled around and ta-da! tickets.  We were all excited to be going, there were four of us and friends of ours from up north were also coming down for the event.

Well, I knew as soon as we entered the arena that this was not going to be a usual visually spectacular Cirque performance… our seats were placed such that we were about 25-30 meters from the edge of the stage (even though we were roughly in the 12th row – front row of section 21A (12th row usually would put you about 5-6 meters from the stage edge at the most).  The arena is huge, and the stage looked small and insignificant from the moment we walked in – not such a big deal for a rock concert with the huge screens they provide to see the musicians close up, but for a theatre performance?!  For reference, I have seen Saltimbanco, Quidam and Varekai in the arena setting and in none of these were we so far back from the actual performance.  A zoomed in look at our view… seems I didn’t try and take a pic at full frame.

Something else that seemed a true weirdness for this performance was the presence of an interactive mobile app that the audience was encouraged to download and use throughout the show.  It was touted to do things like provide additional sounds, and turn torches on at pertinent points – but like many of these sorts of things, the sheer volume of people trying to use the app in the arena caused it to keep crashing and failing.  I also couldn’t for the life of me understand why they would sell you a $200 ticket and then encourage the entire audience to be fiddling with their phones and not watching the actual performance.

Then there was the actual performance itself.  The Cirque is usually a series of vignettes held together by a loose and sometimes obscure theme – this performance had a direct linear narrative, with an actual voice-over narrator frequently booming over the action sequences.  It was also seriously light on the actual feats of awe-inspiring acrobatics, gymnastics and dance expression that has made the Cirque such a global success.

Having seen two other performances that both carried a strong narrative similar to this, though not as blatant – Ka and Amaluna – I hope this isn’t the way of the Cirque in the future… leave that stuff to actual theatre productions – give us the Cirque ‘wow’ that comes from watching these incredible people display their talents.

All up the show was over-priced, underwhelming and I found myself disappointed and a little pissed off at having spent so much money to go see something that didn’t even feel like a Cirque show.  I felt ripped off at not being able to see the production in the big top, where I felt the more intimate setting may have improved the entire experience.  Instead of leaving with beaming faces and on a high, we all kinda meandered out saying ‘Well, it was okay, I guess.’  Not our usual countenance on leaving a Cirque performance.  Was all a bit sad really.  So, at the end of the day, I figure they are touring the show in arenas to milk the die hard fans before retiring this decidedly non-Cirque, Cirque show.


Cirque Tattoo Cover up.

I have a tattoo on my left shoulder that was done by Gary Davis when I was younger… quite a bit younger.  In about 1991 to be precise.  It is a pixie and it used to always remind me of Edouardo.  Anyway I am much older, and so is she – and both of us have aged, rather poorly.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting her a face lift (I’ll worry about getting me one later!).  So ideas, what to do with a fairy that I don’t exactly dislike, but would like to see freshened up?

tattoo 1MC

I don’t want to get her covered by a large hibiscus, or a Japanese carp, or an owl (don’t ask… there appears to be a weird trend for them lately) or something just because these sorts of designs can lend themselves well to covering old ink, because I still rather like her actually.   And it occurred to me that she could very easily be converted into looking like a Cirque du Soleil character and keep much of her previous charm.  Now, I know this is probably taking the whole Cirque obsession a little far… but surely this option is a bit more personal and more interesting than just putting the fairy on a big mushroom or in a crescent moon or with some other fairy related object that is equally common?!  I dunno.   I have been gathering pics as inspiration for her transformation, but the Cirque is so wild and creative, you could literally go with anything.

UPDATE (June 5):
I’ve been talking with Kenny Morrissey, the tattooist who is going to do my cover up, and from what he is saying the blurred lines and deep colours of my current fairy are not going to translate well into the pic that I hastily sketched out.  But I can look at having a total cover up done which really opens up the possibilities in design.  I sort of landed on a Cirque concept due to wanting to keep the fairy, but now I am kinda attached to the idea.  But with so much inspiration though – where to start?  I’ve been thinking about this:

cirque-du-soleil---dralion-  Decisions, decisions.

Well, after very little ado and not much debate, I decided that I love the Dralion dragon/lion…  and given I had a few weeks to live with it, and was still enamoured with the idea, so today I went to have it done.  This is how the grey work thing goes:
tattoo RMB grey work cover upIt’s basically to lighten up some of those darker lines and to smooth out the tones and colours to allow a new design to be laid over the top.  The photo shows the original fairy, the grey after it was applied and the piece as it was healing – it was a lot smoother and clear by the time went back for the cover up (about three weeks we let it heal).  So today I got it done.  First the outline, which always hurts like a bitch!  Especially that bit high on my shoulder and round section of the ball…
RMB Dralion Progress1 Cirque du Soleil tattoo cover upThen Kenny started with the colouring in bit, and we got this far before needing a break for some lunch and for Kenny to hang with some students that were coming in.  I could really *feel* the sections that were going over the recently healed grey work.  I definitely recommend leaving three to four weeks between grey work and final work…
RMB Drailion Progress 2Then back to it after lunch.  Now, I am not sure why, but as you sit there traumatising you skin you kind build up a tolerance to that particular type of pain, so when you bugger off for half and hour and let it start to recover, when you start in again, it’s like ‘what the fuck?’, and shit does it hurt.  Best bit about that though – while Kenny was working his magic, I totally couldn’t feel any of my normal back pain.  Better than morphine!   😀

And at the end of the day, I have this gorgeous dragon tattoo based on the Cirque du Soleil’s Drailon poster… and I love it!  It looks fantastic and totally covers up the old pixie.  Kenny Morrissey at Morrisey’s Tattoo Couture – you’ve excelled yourself and absolutely exceeded expectations!  Thank you, I am a very happy camper!
RMB Dralion 2 RMB - Dralion 1

I think I am officially Cirque obsessed now… certifiably so.  🙂

Cirque logo

Cirque du Soleil – Ka

Can’t believe I finally got to see Ka! Well, come to think of it, I can’t believe I am back in Las Vegas barely 9 months since I was here last, but I go to Ka! (Which is the proper exciting bit, of course). Last year, when I was in Alaska with Aunty Mary, there was a tragic accident at Ka – one of the performers fell to her death during a performance, causing an immediate enquiry and a temporary cessation to all scheduled performances for the following three or four weeks – which was when we had tickets to go see it. Of course I was disappointed not to be seeing the show, but I remember spending a lot of time thinking about that woman and her family, and how her death must have effected the cast of the show as well. I never thought I’d be back here with another opportunity to see it…cirque ka poster
The show opens with a narration of a plot – bit of a first for a Cirque show in my experience, they are usually light on plot or based on more esoteric themes rather than narrative. This is the story of twin brother and sister, who get separated and embark on a journey of self discovery, doing battle with Ka to find destruction or enlightenment… or something along those lines.
cirque ka twinsThe real business of Ka is the spectacle; while it is unlike any other Cirque production with it’s story line, it definitely follows the Cirque modus operandi when it comes to providing a truly memorable visually arresting production. The experience starts with the purpose built theatre, the large dragon greeting you near the bar, through to the theatre space itself, which provides an impressive space that envelops the audience. cirque ka dragoncirque ka theatre
There are many great characters in the production displaying the full array of creative, gymnastic, and acrobatic talents that we associate with Cirque productions. Somehow they have even made baton twirling appear exciting and stimulating. cirque ka archerscirque ka batons
I also particularly loved the ‘clowns’ or the comic relief element that is in most Ka shows and usually brings everyone back down after a particularly impressive act. In this show they appeared as creatures, like a turtle, a crab, a starfish and a centipede. In keeping with most other Cirque shows, the ‘clowns’ do not speak and work predominantly in mime which allows them to communicate exceptionally well across language barriers.cirque ka turtlecirque ka centipede
But one of the real starts of this show, the importance of which shouldn’t be underestimated, is the unique Ka Theatre. The stage itself is without a floor and instead operates with two large, elevating platforms and five smaller lifts which move the workspace and the characters around. There is a ship platform which flails violently out over the audience, another platform covered in gravel for quiet scenes which then tips up and allows a fast paced climbing/acrobatic scene. The stage itself is a technical marvel and may well be one of the most sophisticated stage designs ever seen. Without it and the large purpose built apparatus, Ka just would not work.
imagecirque ka wheel death
At the end of the show we were almost rendered speechless – the show is soo good. Many people dislike the unusual (for Cirque) plot and feel it detracts from what they came for, which more often than not is to see the impossibly talented performers doing unbelievably difficult things – so Ka tends to pull mixed reviews. I think you need to know what you are getting into before you line up… Ka is a Cirque show, full of physically demanding and breathtakingly difficult and yet beautiful acts, but it is also a production brimming with theatrical drama and brash spectacle. Well worth seeing, imho. And Mr K (who was not really warming up to the Cirque) absolutely loved it – enough to ponder the possibility of going to see it again before we left! Now there is a recommendation for you1

Cirque in New York – Amaluna!

When Mr K first said he wanted to go to the US this year; before I booked air fares, before leave applications were lodged, before finances were worked out, I bought tickets to see Amaluna in New York! Yes, I was that excited about the prospect of seeing the Cirque du Soleil’s newest show.
imageSo that was last November, and last night we went on an adventure out to Flushing, Queens and went to see the show.

The show was quite different from what I’ve come to expect from the Cirque du Soleil. It was more reminiscent of the recent big screen Cirque film, World’s Away than any of the other shows I have seen, in that it has a clear story of the coming of age of a character named, Miranda (it might just be me, but there’s more than a little theatrical Shakespeare running through this show) who goes through various trials (the Tempest) to meet her true love (a rather love sick Romeo type). Miranda is a small powerhouse of a gymnast and dancer, who does some amazing balance work and an beautiful underwater ballet in a large spherical glass/pool like the one in Zumanity.
This Cirque is supposed to be a celebration of the feminine, and there is less macho thrills and chills types acts and more acts designed to show the flexibility and sometimes quiet strength of the feminine. There were still plenty of acts with acrobats flying high, from both guys and girls and I love watching the incredibly difficult things these amazing performers are capable of doing. Girls on parallel bars dressed in bright red and calling battle cries and guys in blue on a seesaw type launcher showing off amazing aerial skills.
There was also three amazing women doing aerial work that looked like the trapeze you have when you are not having a trapeze. These girls were flying around overhead, doing the most amazing flips and twirls and splits and stunts at frightening speed and height, all while just hanging on by their hands, and looking awesome while doing it. There was also a stunningly beautiful woman doing some lovely aerial work in a hoop and on a moon shaped contraption that was of course displaying the phases of the moon and correlating them with the phases that Miranda was moving through, and she was mesmerisingly graceful and strong at the same time.image
The musicians and singers were more front and centre in this show than usual, with singers sitting on the edge of the stage and singing throughout various acts, and the guitarists (all women) were front and centre providing a fairly fancy hard rock soundtrack to some of the acts as well. Even the cellist who was also singing at various times, was placed in the moon apparatus and suspended high above the crowd.

I really enjoyed the show, but I always do. It’s like going to see Olympic athletes perform, but ones who’ve been given amazing costumes, beautiful make up, unbelievably creative choreography and a kick ass soundtrack. Looking forward to three more Cirques next week in Vegas! 🙂image