The term death-defying long a cliché to describe the stunts performed by Cirque du Soleil became cruelly ironic after an acrobat fell approximately 90 feet to her death last weekend during the companys show Ka at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas.
And so if you visit Time Warner Cable Arena between now and Sunday to catch Cirques Quidam, youre likely to feel a little more anxious when Julie Cameron and Lisa Skinner hang by the tips of their fingers from hoops high above a floor unguarded by a net; to gasp a little louder when contortionist Tanya Burka does a controlled fall as her red aerial silk quickly unravels; to breathe a heavier sigh of relief when five cast members relax their leg muscles ever-so-slightly to slide headfirst down heavy ropes suspended from giant arches.
Quidam in its 17th year, though just its third as an arena show is the fourth Cirque tour to find its way to Charlotte this decade, following Totem (under the Grand Chapiteau at Charlotte Motor Speedway) and Alegría (at TWC Arena) in 2011, and Michael Jackson: The Immortal (also at the arena) in 2012.
Its possible there is some Cirque fatigue here: Wednesdays opening-night crowd was healthy enough, but despite the intentionally intimate setting (the upper level and almost half the lower level was closed), there were dozens of empty seats.
Those who did attend were treated to vintage Cirque du Soleil, bursting with the usual color and sonic liveliness and bolstered by the expected parade of brilliantly thought-out stunts that defy death, injury, and logic even if its burdened by odd tonal shifts.
The story line this time around is as ponderous as ever. At the outset, a young girl named Zoé (Alessandra Gonzalez) longs for excitement yet finds none in her living room, where mom (Carol Valim) seems to be sitting around doing nothing of interest, and dad (Patrick McGuire) has his face buried in The Charlotte Observer.
Almost immediately, a headless, umbrella-toting figure in a trench coat arrives at the familys door and leaves a bowler hat that transports her to a world where well, where Cirque du Soleil performs a parade of brilliantly thought-out stunts that defy death, injury, and logic.
The logic-defying stunts, in this case, are the most amazing. I loved the Diablo routine, in which Wei Liang Lin uses two sticks linked by a string to juggle a plastic spool; the tricks are so mind-boggling youd swear some sort of real-time CGI is involved. And the climax of the rope-skipping sequence features six people whipping six ropes around as nine skippers hop, skip and jump through a blur of curved lines. Or were there five ropes and 10 skippers? Counting was nearly impossible.
Everything in Quidam seemed to go off without a hitch on Wednesday except one thing. Theres a key moment right before intermission when Zoé releases a helium-filled red balloon that is to be captured in a birdcage by a character called the Target, who floats above the stage from a wire. On this night, perhaps for the first time ever, the balloon missed its Target and floated up to the rafters.
It goes to show: Lose focus for one second, and a mistake can happen. But as Cirque du Soleil mistakes go, it could have been much, much, much worse.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less