Tag Archives: circus

GREC – “Le Grand C”: Delightful

This is actually poetry, not a threesome

This is actually poetry, not a threesome

Parting from the Grec Festival can be quite sad – especially when, like this year, it has given you a chance to spend several lovely evenings. My friends and I could not have found a better way to do it than to pick “Le Grand C” by Compagnie XY as the last show, on Sunday 29 July. These French acrobats are so good, and their performance so well conceived, that I felt lucky and privileged to be among the audience. They manage to provide a quite different experience from Cirque du Soleil: their set is extremely sober and their poetic universe is based on silence, absolute trust, and human contact. When they softly hug each other as they build breathtaking human towers, or turn into the spinning dolls of a carrillon right before taking flight from a catapult, you cannot help but feel moved and enchanted. Except for the beginning of the show, which takes a bit too long to take off, they excel at building up momentum, then suddenly surprising you with an unexpected twist: the “Whoas” and “Eeeks” abound as you slowly surrender to their mastery, and when it ends you feel that you have learned a lot about the artistic drive, the challenges, and the astounding commitment of an acrobat. As we went down the steps of Teatre Grec, I found myself sharing a quiet prayer with the moon: may I climb up to this magical gardens again next year, and may I enjoy an equal share of inspiring times in good company as I have done in 2012.

UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 9 out of 10 + Standing Ovation

Cirque du Soleil, “Corteo”: Compelling

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Genius...

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Genius…

Give it a try if…  Your heart has not forgotten the language of angels.

Steer clear if… You just do not see yourself dreaming with the lights on.

What more can be said about Cirque du Soleil? They have redefined a whole form of entertainment; they have been enjoying huge global success; their work is consistently praised in artistic reviews and increasingly analyzed in countless business books. Well, I can say this: they keep making great art, and they’ve brought to Barcelona yet another show not to be missed.

A great idea for bored couples' winter nights

A great idea for bored couples’ winter nights

Save the Best for First

Premiered in 2005, “Corteo” opens boldly with its possibly best scene: two women exploring space and gravity while hanging on two huge chandeliers. Once the stakes are set in the Grand Chapiteau, the company reminds us – as we see a tightrope walker casually cross the stage with his head down – that tonight, unconventional is the word. Same goes for the whole premise of the show, by the way: a clown attending his own funeral.

Ah, Valentina! A scene you will not easily forget

Ah, Valentina! A scene you will not easily forget

Till Death Do Us Charm

Not the most cheerful of backdrops, one might argue – nor the most suited for a frequently children-packed audience. Yet the sensitivity such a delicate subject is dealt with turns this into one of Cirque du Soleil’s most compelling, poetic, and sophisticated shows. Some of the acrobatics might be (just slightly!) weaker than, say, a breathtaking triumph like “Saltimbanco”; but the aesthetics is simply unbelievable, the music is more convincing than their usual new-agey crowdpleasers, and the story itself, this time, seems more than just an excuse. Even the European references, cleverly scattered all over the place, feel so genuine and well-researched that it is hard to believe this ensemble has Canadian roots. In short, this is performing art at its best; you witness it and think, can there be anything more spectacular than this?

An item bound to change your life

An item bound to change your life

Ravenous Clowns

All of this has certain costs, of course, which are reflected in what I consider Cirque du Soleil’s only flaw: they have turned into such a huge machine (complete with überkitsch permanent theatres in Las Vegas) that they are forced to milk the audience anyway they can. Picture me asking for some water at the bar and being forced to pay 6 euros for a (nice) stainless steel reusable bottle I did not really need… filled with tap water. Even worse, ticket price points are so high that a whole segment of the world’s population is meanly excluded from such an unforgettable experience.

...you must be joking, right?

…you must be joking, right?

Backlash Alert!

The whole money-making side of it has simply gotten over the top now, and I would advise my heroes to reverse the trend before it is too late. Either cut the costs, or give up some profits, or both. I hope they are learning a lesson here in Barcelona: pre-sales were so bleak that they are being forced to rely on discount channels to fill the seats. The upside – and the sSSHtip of this post – is that if you go once, at least for the moment, you can buy tickets for any other evening (including for friends, but only on the spot, so be prepared) at 50% discount. The milking mania – and the atrocious decision, for such a children’s favourite, to dedicate a whole upcoming show to Michael “Let Me Tuck You to Bed” Jackson – makes a standing ovation out of place; but as long as they keep churning out great shows, they can definitely count me among their audience.

UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 9+/10 + wow!