A taste of Cirque du Soleil that should captivate Irish audiences

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After a two-year hiatus, the breathtaking and awe-inspiring Cirque du Soleil is back and our writer has traveled to Split to see what Irish audiences can expect later this year.

What happens when we die, when we die? It’s a question adults ask themselves and children ask their parents with that innocent curiosity.

Nobody really knows, so maybe we should look to the Dreamer Clown for inspiration.

For him, there is a chance to review all the great things that happened in his life. There are meetings with friends, songs and dances, acrobats performing daring feats, there is music, laughter and love, before an angel grants him his wings and he soars in the sky.

The journey of the Dreaming Clown is the story told by Mauro Mozzani in the fabulous Corteo. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

The journey of the Dreaming Clown is the story told by Mauro Mozzani in the fabulous Corteo, the Cirque du Soleil show which takes the post-Covid route and takes on a whole new meaning.

Corteo was revived in the ancient city of Split, Croatia, where the show was first staged, much to the delight and amazement of the audience.

Young children – and those much older – were left breathless as the talented performers and crew showed their joy and relief to be back on the road in a magical celebration.

Young children – and those who were much older – seemed in awe of the talented performers. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

Corteo means procession in Italian but also doubles as the word procession, but there are few tears and certainly no noir in there. One of Cirque’s shows currently on the roads around the world, it’s a family show written by Daniele Finzi Pasca, reimagining the funeral procession not as a sad event, but rather as a celebration of life.

Cirque stands for ‘Cirque et la compagnie de Baie-Montréal rue Laliberté Ste-Croix Artistic director Alison Crawford, who grew up in Belfast before moving to Montreal aged 13, helped create the original show for the marquee du Cirque but in 2005 he transferred to an arena setting. She’s key to bringing Corteo to Dublin’s 3Arena in July.

“I was Danielle’s assistant, so I was very lucky to build this show with him,” she explains. “We meet a man at his funeral but it’s not a sad story, it’s a true celebration of his life and all the people who live there. It is a very touching sight.

Alison started as a choreographer for the company 24 years ago and worked her way up to Artistic Director, now making sure the show runs smoothly and all the gymnasts, acrobats, actors and singers work in perfect harmony.

With arena shows, the cast and crew move every week and although Alison loved the quietness of her chalet in Montreal, where she managed to get things done that she didn’t have time for before Covid, two years was long enough. “There’s a certain point where you go, okay, let’s go, we have to come back,” she said.

It’s a sentiment shared by the rest of the cast and crew, who bustle behind black curtains to the side of the stage. From the beginning of the afternoon, the wings are bustling with activity. The technical team put the acrobats and their stunt doubles through their paces, carefully monitoring each position to make sure everyone performed safely, whether hanging from ropes or poles, swinging from side to side. huge chandeliers or flying through the air, like a trapeze.

As Hitomi Kinokuniya flies through the air suspended on what, to an untrained eye, looks like two lengths of fragile material, Derryman Gavin Gallagher watches her closely with his team, analyzing her every moment and tweaking the physics behind .

An engineer who is now employed as an automation technician, Gavin is part of a team in charge of Corteo’s flying angels and aerial artists, making them move and stop the set at the right time. It is a team on which the lives of artists depend.

“It’s dangerous but very safe,” he says. “We have so many safety protocols, rescue training for so many different scenarios, so if anything were to happen, we are prepared for it.”

With arena shows, the cast and crew move weekly. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

So how did a boy from Derry manage to run away with the circus? “I have always worked in events, since I was a kid. Then I did electrical engineering. I was doing sound and lighting and stuff like that for Unit Seven in Derry, a lot of local gigs, then I moved to England to do theater gigs and then on a cruise ship, where I started doing scene automation.

“I started on a show called Allegria, then moved on to the new show they were creating in Montreal, then Covid hit and I’m starting again here, two months ago,” he says.

The pandemic has been difficult – he has spent most of his time in Derry and Ecuador, where his wife is from. “I was an electrician before that, so I did electrical work and then we had a baby, which is the hardest job of all,” he laughs.

Gavin is currently on tour with his wife and baby, who is just over a year old. “It’s harder than when I was doing it myself,” he laughs. “We have a little extra baggage but that’s great.”

For Gavin, it’s a dream job.

Gavin is currently on tour with his wife and baby, who is just over a year old. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

He loves going to work every day and when we meet he just saw the public show. “Last night I was able to enjoy it and it’s quite impressive – it blows your mind as an audience member,” he says.

It’s certainly breathtaking – every second of the show is a moment that touches an emotion in the audience, taking them from peals of laughter to astonished gasps as tendons fly and bodies are twisted and twisted into shapes in the air that are unimaginable to us mere mortals in the stalls.

These people have muscles on their muscles and although there is also a gym behind the scenes, the daily rehearsals and performances are enough to keep them in shape, according to Sante Fortunato, one of the four artists who twists and swirls in a beautiful display on giant chandeliers as part of the show.

These people have muscle on top of their muscle and although there is also a gym behind the scenes, the daily reps and performances are enough to keep them in shape. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

She is married to juggler and diablo artist Sasha Yudintsev after meeting on the show in 2017. They now have a baby girl who, at just nine months old, is traveling the world with them.

“Initially, I wanted a normal job, but I fell into that,” says Canadian Health. “I grew up doing rhythmic gymnastics and dancing and at 18 I heard there was a circus school and applied at the same time as applied to other normal universities . I entered circus college and I thought, what do I do now?

Fortunately, she followed her dream and at circus school she specialized in hula hoop, ariel hoop and contortion. Although she is able to fly through the air, gliding with grace and verve from specially designed lights, she insists she is still working on her post-baby flexibility.

“The contortion stuff, I’m not quite there yet,” she says. “I regain my flexibility.”

The practice is daily for Sante, but she mostly focuses on rehearsing the parts of the show she provides support for, rather than the part she is involved in. do seven to nine shows a week,” she explains. “We also do a fairly long warm-up which in a way also feels like a workout. In this show, I do a back-up number with hoops and I don’t do that every night, so I have to practice every day.

“Everyone is a little different,” Sante says. “I really like to do conditioning, but I use my own body weight – push-ups and pull-ups. I like to eat well and eat healthy because if you eat junk food, it creates inflammation, which means that you have more risk of injury and things like that.

But there are no rules, it’s a matter of personal choice for the performers.

There is a gym backstage and each performer has their own trainer to help them do their act well. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

So before the Hungarian performer, Anita Szented flies through the audience suspended by balloons in a breathtaking performance, the team of carpenters led by Geneviève Corbeil Leduc ensures that each balloon is filled with a certain measure of helium and they are tested on the performer to ensure she is moving properly as as little as a glass of water can have an impact.

During the show, audience members push Anita through the crowd at her request and at one point an excited child rushes in to do her part, much to the delight of tour manager Michael Veilleux, who says it’s a moment he will remember for the rest of his life.

It’s a sight that all who see it will also remember for the rest of their lives, oblivious to the juggling – both literal and metaphorical – that takes place behind those black curtains.

Watching Corteo is like stepping into someone else’s dream, fantasy world. There are giant beds that serve as trampolines, balloons that can carry people away, amazing feats of strength, skill and acrobatics, music and above all, all the fun and magic of the circus.

But on another level, Corteo reminds audiences of the intense beauty of a life well lived, something that has taken on new meaning for everyone.

The performance has poignant moments, in which you hope those before us have soared to heaven, having completed that all-important angel wing training under the watchful eye of some benevolent ethereal beings.

As we leave the Spaladium Arena in Split, a small child next to us sings loudly. He composes his own version of Corteo’s operatic singing, marching like the troupe on stage. Like all of us, he was inspired by the joy of Cirque du Soleil, an experience everyone should attend before going to be with the angels.

It is a sight that all who see it will remember for the rest of their lives. Photo: Alexandra Gaillard

With her little song filling the night air, we depart for Split, our own procession of those whose souls have been nurtured by the entertainment of a very special night.

CIRQUE Du Soleil’s Corteo will be at Dublin’s 3Arena on July 6 and 7 at 8 p.m., July 9 at 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and July 10 at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale now via ticketmaster.ie

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