Entertainment » Highlights » Vol.12

Cirque Du Soleil’s Alegria

By Christine R. Walsh

Photo courtesy of www.cirquedusoleil.com

Photo courtesy of www.cirquedusoleil.com

To sit amidst the simple magic of dreams, to forget any sense of responsibility or duty, to inhale when the lights go down and not exhale until the lights go up upon intermission, to remember what unbridled joy and amazement ~ all of this means that you are seated in the audience of Cirque Du Soleil’s “Alegria.”

“Alegria” is a traveling show specifically designed for sports arenas.  For years, most have enjoyed the Cirque experience beneath the big top ~ a wonderful opportunity for cities that could accommodate the large set.  Now with shows like “Alegria,” meant for the smaller venues such as Worcester’s DCU Center, more audiences can delight in the extraordinary feats of the human body and spirit.

The show is a celebration of joy, a collection of stories where power is both transformed and passed from one generation to the next.  As with all Cirque shows, the music strikes through the sternum and holds the heart in its grasp until the mission of emotion is complete, while the bodies of the performers appear to literally float and fly through the ether, reminding you that you may be weightless if you so choose.

The characters weave a full tale: we have the White Singer, whose voice echoes throughout the building, relaying musical truths as she sings of the stories she sees in her world.   The Black Singer, just as powerfully vocal in the telling of all tales, is the White Singer’s alter ego.  She speaks of darker truths and ~ despite a gorgeous façade ~ has a twisted soul.  Fleur, a fat and grotesque man, works as the guide through the world of “Alegria,” and would most likely rob each audience member blind if given the opportunity.
The Old Birds is a group of old biddies and buddies who, despite their obvious wrinkles and sags, still believe they are youthful and that they have decades ahead of them to seize their fortunes.  Finally, we have the Clowns ~ audience favorites if there ever were beloveds amongst a cast.  Without the use of any real words, the Clowns can make the guests in the world of “Alegria” laugh out loud or give pause and let tears fill eyes.

Assistant Artistic Director Sheryl-Lynne Valensky traveled with Cirque Du Soleil for four years as a general stage manger before taking on her current role with “Alegria.”   It is Valensky’s job to make certain that the show is of the highest antistatic integrity, be it the first performance or the 91st.

“Our job, or at least how I see it, is about inspiration.” Valensky says.  “It’s about keeping the show fresh so you have to find ways to inspire and new ways to stimulate.”

Inspire and stimulate she does, because each performance night is a fresh and crisp triumph.  Apart from the gorgeous songs and the comical acts, there are of course amazing athletic acts. The Aerial High Bar Act, for example, astounds easily ~ Three high bars are set 40 feet above the stage.  Acrobats fly back and forth, to and fro, hoping that their compatriots will catch them as they too swing upon cradle swings high above the ticketholders.   And with each human toss, the gasps from the audience are audible.

Another act, known as the Power Track, keeps the viewer furrowing his eyebrows and wondering how the leaps and jumps of the performers are possible.  At the top of the act, the stage reveals itself to be a giant X-shaped trampoline.  A team of about 15 individuals run, twist, and flip their way through the music ~ inspiring all to reach for greater heights in their own lives.

Valensky, who has seen the entire show time and time again in a number of different venues, never  tires of stepping into the world of “Alegria.” “I still have my ‘awe’ moments, there are still shows where I’m watching them and the hair on the back of my neck stands up.  The fact that we are doing gymnastic dismounts 30 feet in the air and somebody is catching them is incredible.  Part of me is going ~ how to they come up with this stuff?  And how do we find people who can actually do it?”

Experience the wonder for yourself when Alegria visits the DCU Center from December 9 – 13th.  For more information, go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/alegria/default.aspx.

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