Entertainment » Theatre

Cirque du Soleil 'Corteo'

by Jenny Block
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Mar 12, 2018
A scene from "Corteo."
A scene from "Corteo."  

Cirque du Soleil "Corteo," like all of their sublime pieces, is a study in the impossible made possible. In just one evening, in the dark and quiet of Houston's Toyota Center, angels that look like they were plucked from a Victorian Christmas card hung in the air; tiny performers bumbled a comedic showing of "Romeo and Juliet;" a clown dreamed of his own funeral; magnificent music was played; and the most marvelous of feats were performed at heights and speeds and with props and skills that left the audience reeling.

Cirque is known for creating dreamlike images and breathing them to life onstage. Stories are told and mysteries are unraveled, all the while audiences are thrilled and moved and awed by what is unfolding before them. Attending Cirque is like walking through a dream, which is particularly apropos for "Corteo," since it reveals the tale of a majestic clown dreaming of his own funeral.

It is a magnificent dream. The four loves of the clown's life open the show with beautiful and mind-bending aerial acrobatics on chandeliers that swing from the ceiling high above. The performers are pure grace and strength and the audience could not stop "oohing" and "ahhing" front start to finish. It was impossible to take your eyes off the incredibly skilled women who moved amidst the lights as if they were dancing on solid ground.

A scene from "Corteo."  

From there the show takes off like a shot. Acrobats bounce on two 600-pound beds and artists whirl and climb on giant Cyr wheels, both seeming to define gravity and the limits of the human body. Then, French artist Stephanie Ortega took the stage, flying through the air on a suspended pole, creating the most magical shapes with her body. So strong and so graceful, she made it look as if she was doing nothing more than dancing though instead she was quite literally flying through the air.

The magic continues with a live marionette who plays ball on the "beach" with the clown and a hula hooper who manages more hoops on her body than one can follow with the eye. Then Hungarian artist Anita Szentes, the Clowness, who is a little person, floats onto the stage held in the air by giant balloons. The clown joyfully pushes her into the air and then out in the audience who, in turn, push her eventually back to the stage. It was the loveliest, sweetest interlude amidst all of the high drama acts.

Artists perform on the teeterboard, on a trampoline net, on crystal glasses and bowls, and with so many juggling pins you are sure one will fall and yet never does. Ukrainian performer Slava Pereviazko climbs a ladder that is connected to nothing and manages to jump and play and flip on it as if it was grounded in concrete. Ariel strap performers and then horizontal bar experts conclude the show with two more acts that kept the audience from breathing and then left them cheering. Each scene was mesmerizing, impossible to do and yet blissfully and expertly done.

A scene from "Corteo."  

The show is led by American artist Sean Lomax who says he was raised on "The Sound of Music" and only stopped whistling when the adults made him. His whistling performance in the show was more akin to opera then whistling a happy tune, so melodic and expert that one can hardly believe it was a person - rather than an instrument - making the luscious sounds. The cast is rounded out by Italian performer Mauro Mozzani as the Dreamer Clown; Argentinian Victorino Lujan, who stands just shy of seven feet and weighs about 400 pounds, as the Giant Clown; Ukranian Inna Teslenko as the Little Angel; Brazilian Marcelo Perna as the White Clown; Ukranian Viktor Sovpenets, also a little person, as the Little Clown; and KazakhstaniAlexandr Yudintsev as the August Clown.

One would be remiss not to mention the outstanding musicians, band leader Roger Hewet from the UK; violinisit St├ęphane Allard from Canada; bass/contrabass player Robert Brennan from the US; singer Alain Labrie from Canada; sax player and keyboardist Philippe Poirier from Canada; drum player/percussionist Alexandre Reis from Brazil; and guitar and accordion player Eve Willwems from Belgium. Their incredible talent and the enchanting score weave the backdrop and hold the mood for this spell-binding show.

Cirque du Soleil never disappoints. It is always reimagining. It is always reinventing. It is always revisiting what we see as impossible and making it all possible if only for one magical moment with time stops and the Cirque is the thing.

Cirque du Soleil "Corteo" ran March 8-11 at the Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St, Houston, TX 77002, Call 866-446-8849 or visit http://www.houstontoyotacenter.com for tickets to future events. For more on "Corteo," including upcoming dates, visit this website.

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, and ellegirl.com. You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).


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