Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morning Midway: Circque du Soleil Acknowledges (Finally?) its Russian Roots

Daniel Lamarre, Guy Laliberte, the Mayor of Moscow and Russian managing partner Craig Cohon, in Moscow, November, 2009

To my eyes, from the first time I saw them in L.A., 1987, there can be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Cirque du Soleil's deepest artistic roots are in the Soviet Circus scene of the era, and not in any noueau French movement.

In fact, are you listening, Russia? Had there been no Moscow Circus, there would never have been Cirque du Soliel as we know it, not the incredibly reinvented circus presentation that wowed the world upon its ground-breaking premiere in the City of Angels.

Cirque now plays only three Russia cities, and plans by 2015 to add seven more to an annual tour, said company president and Chief Operating Officer Daniel Lamarre to Reuters during a visit to Moscow, in front of the opening this Saturday of Coreto (my least favorite of all Cirque shows).

A permanent show for Russia is also on Cirque's "things to do" list. Throw in around $30-50 million for this little project.

Here comes a surprise, from the man second in command to Guy Laliberte. Corteo "had input throughout from Russian directors," revealed Lamarre. Show was originally created and directed by Italian Daniele Finzi Pasca, pushing a cerebrally fluffy vision that struck me as the work of an unmolested director having been given generous autonomy. Perhaps the Russians were later imported to put some muscle into Pasca's yawning sight and fashion show.

According to Lamarre, Cirque draws 20% of its acts acts from Russia, another 20% from China.

"Russians are the best performers on the planet. Any time we have a Russian, we take them."

I'd not go quite that far. Now that the Chinese acrobatics are taking to the air and, with exciting new direction (yes, influenced by Cirque) reshaping outstanding privately funded and produced shows in Beijing and Shanghai, China could well end up equal to the greatest circus capitals on the planet.

The leading Russian deficit? Those emasculating life lines which they introduced into the program back in the 1920s, and which have gradually infected circus art around the world.

But another matter, right? Yes, I know. I need to get over it.

1 comment:


Guy Laliberte and his pals visited my Ronald McDonald Circus,under the Big Top,in the summer of 1982.

We were playing at Les Galeries de La Capitale in Quebec City,Quebec and also played its sister city,Levis,on the other side of the St.Lawrence river.

In addition to awesome artists,in the air and on the ground,we had cats,horses,dogs,bears and elephants.

With gorgeous costumes,we presented opening,spec and finale.

We performed in 27 cities in Quebec,in addition to Ottawa,Ontario.

It was a two ring circus.