Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Theatre II To the Varekai

    Circuses had always remained a good childhood memory of mine, I recall the time my parents had brought me to a tent circus. They were the circuses of today, they were much simpler~ filled with the circus acts that boasted clowns, trapeze artists and ringmasters. It was a rainy day and I was particularly cranky because I didn't like rain much, plus we had to travel far from the city just to see it. I was a child, I didn't know any better.

    And being the child I was, I immediately lightened up when I saw the striped red and yellow tent at a distance. My excitement grew the closer we got.

    Even up to the present time my excitement still grows with every wonderment and fancy I could chance upon. As a I grew up, the circuses also grew--that is, multiplied in both acts and companies. The famous Cirque Du Soleil started as a small company but has now expanded worldwide and have troupes currently residing and touring the different continents. And Varekai now joins the list of Cirque acts to grace the country's shores.

    The ticket


    Varekai means "wherever" in Romany language.

    The story of Varekai revolves around Icarus, yes he is known in literature and mythology as the boy who flew too near the sun and fell into the ocean. The sun had melted the wax on the man-made pair of wings and made them unsuitable for flying, thus, the story of Icarus.

    This version of the story of Icarus changes the bit where he falls into the ocean. Instead he falls into a lush green forest where he meets fantastical creatures who try teach him how to fly again after injuring himself from his fall, and there he also meets La Promise and falls in love.

    The show began in 2002 and the troupe has been on tour since, they retired a few of their acts but the show was still packed with tons of energy and high-octane performances. I found myself a bit worn out after the show, I suppose it was because I was so focused and engaged in the performances.

    There were around 12 acts excluding the interludes to rest from the acrobatics. They ranged from the Russian Swings, Aerial Straps, Aerial Hoop and the Triple Trapeze, to the Water Meteors, Handbalancing on Canes, and the Icarian Games. There were too many to mention.

    I loved all the acts but I found myself in amazement when the first act, the Flight of Icarus, was performed. It was performed in mid-air, only to be supported and held up by a hanging net. It was a sight to see the acrobat flip and dangle in a fluid entrancing mid-air dance, despite the danger of him falling down. The Russian swings were also another act that was very thrilling, it made the audiences gasp in the height of the dangerous jumps and flips. I found myself holding my breath every time they were hurled into the air by the twin swings.I also enjoyed the act of the clowns, they provided a much needed break from the dynamic and exciting acrobatic acts.

    The costumes and make-up were what caught my eye, of course a visual is the first thing that you are able to process. They were all the brainchild of costume designer Eiko Ishioka. The design's approach was to reinvent the traditional leotard by giving it new life with experimental and sturdy shapes. Inspiration from the natural world such as plant life, reptiles, land and water life, and the elements were used without being too literal. There are 130 costumes in the entire collection and over 600 elements to make a whole wardrobe of costumes, shoes and accessories. IT actually takes around 250 hours a week to keep the costumes in top shape for performances.

    What is the secret of the costumes?---Lycra, due to its ease maintenance, suppleness and elasticity, it became a favorite to use. Other materials like titatnium rods and such were used to support and aesthetic purposes. If that wasn't enough, textures and structures were created for a more dynamic look on the acrobats. Even digital screen-printing was utilized for some pieces.

    The make-up they apply on themselves and wear a certain look throughout the show, changing only slightly when they change costumes. Most of the look is attributed to the costumes and headdresses.

    The stage was set up in a arena type fashion, but the stage in the middle was above the ground. This was mainly for the performers who were coming from underground. The backdrop of the stage itself was filled with a thick bamboo grove and was assisted by lighting. When you look up you can see the stairs from the stage extending above the stage. It was decorated in wood as well, giving off a tree house look, as the bridges linked one post to another.

    Most of their props where mobile and were moved around by most of the actors, saving time and effort to fix the stage for the next act.

    Cirque Du Soleil music was amazing. Though they were still speaking in Cirque gibberish, it matched the theme of the performance well. The fact that they had a live band helped as well, it created a more engaging atmosphere for the actors and the audiences alike. I wanted to get a CD but it was all sold out!

    Here are a few clips from the film-adaptation of Varekai released in 2003.

    Cirque Du Soleil VAREKAI

    The Russian Swings
    Cirque Du Soleil VAREKAI

    The Aerial Hoop
    Cirque Du Soleil VAREKAI

    The Flight of Icarus
    Cirque Du Soleil VAREKAI

    "No Me Quitte Pas"
    Cirque Du Soleil VAREKAI

    Here are some stills as well:


    His first meeting with his betrothed, in her more creature-like form

    The Flight of Icarus

    The Icarian Games

    Aerial Straps

    Georgian Dance

    The Trapeze Artists

    Body Skating

    Her Transformation

    The Russian Swings and the Wedding

    Icarus and La Promise
    Here are pictures I took:

    The yellow and striped Cirque tent that you can easily spot in the midst of the concrete jungle.

    Me and my brother. I watched with my family.

    No Cellphones, Cameras or Smoking Allowed. They were really strict about this.

    The interior of the tent. They sold Varekai goods and also food and drink that you can bring into the main stage area.

    We had to line up and go into the main area of the huge tent

    I bumped into my friend Gelo Conferido~ We did a play together last February, Varekai had us reminiscing

    All in all I enjoyed the performance, Cirque Du Soleil never fails to amaze me. I felt that same excitement as i did befora and I became a child once again as I watched the acrobats in awe as they flew through the air.
    If you would like to know more about Cirque Du Soleil and see if their troupes are coming in a tent near you please click the Cirque Du Soleil icon below!

    Buy the Cirque Du Soleil's VAREKAI Soundtrack!

    ~ Krisan

    DISCLAIMER: Note that No Copyright Infringement Intended. All materials used in this post belong to their respective owners.

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