Orchestras often spotlight acrobats of the keyboard or vocal high-wire acts. Those are just figures of speech, though. The Charlotte Symphony turns to the real thing when Cirque de la Symphonie joins in this weekend for the last concerts of the orchestra's Pops season.
The show: In Cirque de la Symphonie, the orchestra lifts aerialists, acrobats, jugglers and strongmen into action. Ravel's "Bolero" spurs two strongmen through a series of balancing acts. An acrobat suspended in silk floats through space to the celestial strains of John Williams' "Star Wars." Another acrobat rides a hoop above the audiences' heads, performing gravity-defying feats with the help of Saint-Saens' flamboyant "Bacchanale." "I can't describe the feeling of flying through the air as the power of the music just goes right through you," Russian aerialist Alexander Streltsov said in a statement.
International language: Juggler and mime Vladimir Tsarkov is a graduate of Russia's State College of Circus and Theater Arts. Elena Tsarkova, also trained in Russia, plays with the boundary between dance and contortion. Aerial performer Aloysia Gavre was trained at the Ecolo National de Cirque in Canada and spent five years in Cirque du Soleil shows. Jarek and Darek, a strongman duo, are former hand-balancing champions in Poland. Christine Van Loo, raised in New Orleans, began as a gymnast and now is an aerial performer and choreographer - boasting choreographic credits that include the aerials for a Britney Spears tour.
Behind the scenes: The aerialists rely on unseen collaborators: the stagehands. That's who handles the rigging that suspends the performers in midair. The aerial acts, Streltsov said, are "all executed manually without motors. The acts are much more graceful when human hands are doing the lifting."