On Life and Love

I Wanna Be a Gymnast When I Grow Up

Okay, no I don’t, but I was fair at gymnastics when I was a young’un.

Anyway, last night I finally fulfilled my dream of seeing Cirque du Soleil; their Michael Jackson: The Immortal tour hit Charlotte this week.

That was a real circus. And one hell of a performance in general.

I have no pictures, because they disallowed photography of any sort, but I’m okay with that. (On a side note, does “Because of the pyrotechnics and strobe lights, we ask that there be no photography or recording of any kind” really translate to “We do our own PR and don’t want your crappy recordings on the internet”?)

They paid tribute to MJ’s life rather inclusively–the Jackson 5 (meh), his love of nature, his desire for world peace, his painful childhood and escapism, and hints of the scandals thru dramatized mentions of wanting privacy.

There were some absolutely amazing dancers on that stage. (There were also plenty of very good dancers.) I’m biased towards dancing that involves a lot of isolation movements (hip hop and belly dance; what do you expect?), so my favorite act was “Scream” by the “male rhythmic gymnasts”: orchestrated tumbling and flipping on an inflated cushion serving as a trampoline of sorts. I think I screamed when, in the opening, a guy that had been thrown in the air fell flat to the floor… and bounced.

A damn circus. So cool.

A close second was a very Cybermen-reminiscent (and shiver-inducing) “They Don’t Care About Us” dance routine. Dancers in robot/battle armor costumes, lots of heavy marching. Very powerful.

Greg‘s favorite act was “Smooth Criminal” which featured (if I’m not mixing up my acts) a great gangster-themed opening.

I’ve seen a couple of other circuses–a standard Ringling Bros circus and a UniverSoul circus–and Cirque du Soleil smacks the pants off of them. No sad-ass animals, just ridiculously skilled performers. I’ve wanted to see Cirque du Soleil since they started showing their performances on Bravo back in the late 1990’s, early 2000’s.

I was thrown into contemplation at the single-legged performer, particularly given my recent reading on an older circus/freak show fiasco concerning fictional conjoined twins and a case of “cripface.” (Awkwardness, all of that, but educational.) I felt that the way his solos were handled, such as the fact that he was pretty much only on stage for his solos, was questionable. Certainly nowhere near the same case as “Evelyn Evelyn”, but thought-provoking.

Greg (who hasn’t read the “Evelyn Evelyn” commentary, to my knowledge) was more of the opinion that he was filling the same role of a virtuoso as any of the other star performers, and was never portrayed in a “freak show” way (unlike the “monsterized” contortionist, interestingly). Aside from the Mime, though, there weren’t many solos like that. That said, he was definitely in the “absolutely amazing dancer” class, so Greg has a point.

I don’t know. I’m still considering. I don’t particularly need a declaration or “answer.”

A couple of cool meta-experiences: we got a free seat upgrade! After walking all over the place to get to our section (high [and cheap-ish] side seats, but not terrible), we were told that the entire section had been moved down and around to a more center placement. I’m pretty sure those seats were going for twice as much as I paid when I bought mine.

Holla atcha girl.

Second bit of fun: funnel cake. I haven’t had a funnel cake since visiting the local amusement park in high school, and Greg (poor, deprived child) had never had one had also been abstinent for over a decade. Mmm, powdered sugar, chocolate syrup, and fried dough. No redeeming nutritional value at all. I may go another decade before having another one, but last night’s was a wonderful experience. Very circusy, too.

Last night was a thoroughly amazing experience. I bounced in glee and anticipation at almost every musical/video cue of the show (there were only a few songs I didn’t know or didn’t care for). Since tickets were affordable (and strangely, only a couple bucks more expensive than when I wanted to go back in 2001), Cirque is definitely staying on the short list of must-see performances when they swing back through.

One Comment

  • Gregory Weir

    I think there were two warnings: first, “There will be pyrotechnics and strobe lights” (for the seizure-prone) and second, “So that our performers aren’t distracted, don’t use any cameras.” I suspect that the second was conveniently expanded. Camera flashes are distracting, and they don’t any photography anyway for PR reasons. So it’s most convenient to use the crucial justification for the general case. Otherwise, they’d be saying “To avoid distraction, don’t use flash cameras, and anyway we don’t want you taking pictures.”