Cirque Italia wows audiences with acrobatics
Water circus completes fourday visit in Charles County
The sprawling tents and semi trucks of Cirque Italia occupied the normally-empty grounds outside Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf this past week, as the self-described “water circus” visited Charles County.
Crowds flooded underneath the white and blue big top to take in the show, which featured acrobats and aerialists performing on a stage surrounded by 35,000 gallons of water. While the company is Italian-owned and operated, the performance included acts from seven different countries in addition to Italy.
Cirque Italia eschews the old school circus trope of trapeze artists and clown cars and elephants eating peanuts, instead opting for incredible athletes executing death-defying feats.
“I would describe it as more of a modern-style circus that you’d see in Vegas, without being in Vegas,” said acrobat Sara Elizabeth. “High technology, like a traditional circus but more up to date.”
Elizabeth is one of three performers who swings around an orb made of metal poles suspended near the peak of the tent.
A pair of jugglers from Argentina opened the show, handling bowling pins, glowing rings and small balls as well as balancing apparatuses on their chins. The two worked in tandem to finish their act, flipping neon pins over their shoulders to each other while balancing on pedestals.
Next up was an Italian tightrope artist, who rolled and flipped around a cable secured across two poles like a person struggling to get into a hammock. His finale included riding a unicycle across the rope while juggling bowling pins.
Every change of set or stage realignment featured a skit by two clowns, Alex and Yvinson of Brazil. The jokesters, Alex trimmed in red and Yvinson sporting mostly blue with a white fedora, pulled a variety of gags from showering the audience with water guns to horsing around on a trampoline. Alex even had an Evolution of Dancelike bit, and the typically stone-faced Yvinson couldn’t resist falling into formation and strutting during Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
The water aspect of the show wasn’t evident until a contortionist took the stage to a waterfall of hearts. Soothing music played and red light splashed the stage as the woman reached her legs around her head and extended her feet across her chest.
Several different designs streamed down throughout the show, including music notes and sunrises.
“We have [a] computer programmer down below the stage who creates all the patterns,” Elizabeth said. “With the lighting and everything, it looks really cool.”
Following intermission came the most harrowing act of the performance, although it began innocently enough. An aerialist from Mexico hopped into a microphone-shaped apparatus and used momentum and a helping hand from the crew to spin the structure in a full rotation. He proceeded to complete a series of flips and rolls while in the part of the microphone one would speak into. As the structure picked up speed, he jumped onto the outside of it. The performer ran across the top of the circular part of the apparatus for several rotations, and even jumped rope for a portion of that time.
“I think it was the man with the microphone going around in a circle, when he was jumping rope and everything up top,” said Nakisha BlakeDow of Riverdale, when asked about her favorite act. Blake-Dow heard about the circus on Facebook and attended with her two daughters.
Lynese Blake said she preferred the roller-skating act, one of the more unique offerings which featured five Italian skaters whipping atop a miniature rink. In glow-in-the-dark body suits, the performers swung each other in tight circles, using centrifugal force to keep from launching themselves into the crowd.
A contortionist from Cuba dressed in a white button-down shirt and tight pants closed the show, stretching his feet to the ceiling and supporting himself with one hand while the spouts of water synced to his movements. Once he finished, the entire cast returned to the stage for one final round of applause. Each member wore sashes emblazoned with their country of origin.
Cirque Italia will return to Maryland at the end of July, performing for four days in Frederick. The East Coast tour is scheduled to conclude in August in Burlington, N.J., but future locations are coming soon.
“America never really had a water circus, so here we are,” Elizabeth said.
In the finale of Sunday afternoon’s Cirque Italia performance, a Cuban contortionist performs in sync with the water around him.
A performer from Mexico balances on several round, metallic objects high above the stage.