Cirque Goes to the Cinema: Review

The circus, silver screen, and symphony collided in a kaleidoscope of artistic expression at Belk Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. Scores from famous films – including RockyTitanic, and Star Wars – served as a backdrop for aerialists, contortionists, and strongmen. These scores, however, did not fall into the background. Charlotte’s Symphony masterfully set the tempo and mood of the evening, driving the show as men and women flew overhead. From October 13th to October 14th 2017, Charlotte Symphony hosted the incredible show: Cirque Goes to the Cinema.

The show was divided into two halves by an intermission that came too soon. Each half consisted of six performances with the order of performers in the second half mirroring the order of the first. The performers included: a quick-changing woman, a violin-playing aerialist, three strongmen, a contortionist, and a jester; some of these performers acted individually, but the most striking performances were conducted by pairs.

Throughout the show, I was awestruck. However, one aerial ribbon dance eclipsed the rest. Choreographed to “Across the Stars” from Star Wars Episode II, this piece evoked feelings of longing and grandeur as it held a captive audience. The two dancers were stunning; their dark hair contrasted sweetly with the white beaded costumes covering them; the vibrantly red ribbons dangling from above cradled them as they spun, their toes lightly caressing the wood of the stage; the ribbons supported them as they climbed to the sky; they mounted each other as props, held hands for support, twirled magnificently, meanwhile never relinquishing their grips on each other. The music was a river, ebbing and flowing in volume, tugging the dancers high in the air and nestling them to the ground, still in each other’s arms, at the piece’s conclusion. Had the symphony played less than exquisitely, the magic would have been lost. It almost felt impolite to breathe, to disrupt the atmosphere created. One grievance I had throughout the show was the constant applause of the audience. It would cover the music or yank my attention from the show before me. However, during this lovers’ dance, clapping either ceased or ceased to matter – I did not notice it, so great was my focus on the beauty I beheld. This was one of the most artistic renditions of love I have ever seen.

Another engaging duet caused tension in contrast to the aforementioned feelings of longing. This second duet was the concluding act in the show and involved two strongmen. Like the lovers’ dance, the performers played off each other, using each other as props and holding each other in the air. However, the way the strongmen balanced each other seemed impossible. Envision the following scene: two men with white-blonde hair enter the stage. They wear purple, skin-tight pants on bottom. On top, they wear nothing except the shadows cast on their stomachs by their protruding, shelf-like abdominal muscles. One man is slightly smaller than the other. He scurries up his partner, doing handstands on the larger man’s shoulders. He transfers one hand to his partners head and exerts greater and greater pressure. Slowly, the use of the hand on remaining on his partner’s shoulder is no longer necessary. He removes this extraneous limb and balances, one handed, on the head of a man. Now, picture the straining trunk of a neck that holds the weight of a person, several hundred pounds heavier than the head it is supposed to bear. The strength of every muscle in these men, including those in the neck, is impossibly extraordinary.

This show was incredible. It was filled with amazing sights made all the more incredible by the musical accompaniment of Symphony Charlotte. If ever you get the opportunity to see Symphony Charlotte perform, I highly recommend it. In addition to classical symphony shows, they create fun musical atmospheres throughout the season as part of their symphony pops series. The next concert they will be performing in this series is the music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The company that provided the incredible circus performers, Cirque de la Symphonie, continues touring the East Coast until December.

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About the Author

Melissa Martin is a sophomore at UNCC pursuing dual degrees in psychology and English. Her talents include eating multiple Cosmic Brownies a day without tiring of them and slipping the word “incredible” into every conversation. She is incredibly fond of her friends, family, and reading.

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