Cirque Italia wows au­di­ences with ac­ro­bat­ics

Wa­ter cir­cus com­pletes four­day visit in Charles County

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Char­lieIndyNews

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

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.

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