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Issue Date: August 2006 Issue


Delirious Delights

Cirque du Soleil stretches into arena stages for its most spectacular show yet.


Liz Logan

Meet Bill.

He’s a businessman with a boring, gray-tinged life. But he can fly through the many landscapes of his imagination — a tsunami, a wildfire, even the womb of Mother Earth.

In “DELIRIUM,” Cirque du Soleil’s first show for arena stages, anything is possible. It thunders into Quicken Loans Arena this month, taking the company’s multimedia work to a new level of grandeur, integrating four IMAX screens worth of projection space on and around a stage where 44 artists perform, including six singers, 11 musicians, 18 dancers and eight acrobats. Film images will be projected onto transparent curtains on either side of the catwalk stage, as well as on various costumes and props used throughout the show.

Also, for the first time, musicians are fully integrated into the stage action: percussionists create tribal rhythms on a “planet drum” that also serves as a platform for tumbling acrobats.

This could make the audience delirious, all right — but does that mean enchanted to the point of uncontrolled excitement or overwhelmed to the point of disorientation?

Like the word delirium, “overwhelm” has both positive and negative meanings, says Cirque’s director of creation Carmen Ruest.

“For me ‘overwhelmed’ is something so beautiful that you’re totally impressed by it,” she says. On the other hand, she acknowledges that the show may overload: “The scale is big. ... But there are still moments when we only have one performer on stage. Even though the show is on a huge scale, there are still moments where we can be touched.”

Here’s an example: In the “Mother Earth” part, a lone singer dressed in warm tones rises from the stage, her 80-foot dress billowing beneath her. The silhouettes of dancers move inside the dress, as if it were a womb, and light projections appear on the fabric.

“It’s a warm feeling,” says Ruest, “a beautiful scene that brings you back to your childhood.”

At other moments, the audience might be shaken, mirroring Bill’s emotions as he journeys past the terrifying images of a tsunami and a wildfire.

Like other Cirque shows, “DELIRIUM” is an international fusion: Performers come together from countries all over the globe and entertain audiences worldwide. For this reason, Cirque shows have historically included a made-up language. In “DELIRIUM,” invented language is replaced by song lyrics in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and the African dialect Wolof. Speaking in tongues, the show doesn’t target one specific viewer but goes for a universal appeal.

And “DELIRIUM” brings this global artistry to bigger audiences than ever before, which makes Ruest happy.

“It’s important to mix cultures and styles and show the world that we’re sharing the planet and our talent,” she says.

“DELIRIUM” will be at The Q Aug. 3 through 5. For tickets, call (216) 241-5555.


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