What was the creative spark that conceived the idea of two hamster running rings, human scale, rotating about a temporary pivot point anchored 10m above the stage ? Or the teeter, see-saw sommersalt jump on two metre high stilts ? Or flying a kite indoors ? C'est veritable une celebration de culture Canadianne-Francais, n'est pas ?
We lucked out in early adulthood discovering the then fledgling Cirque du Soleil brand during our first visit to Vegas. Jet lagged and rather keen to sleep rather than waste $46 on a show that was described as being "sort of like a circus, but not like a circus". Taking a punt on this uncertain theatrical experience was a fabulous moment of pure serendipity that has enriched my whole being ever since.
The global renaissance of the circus movement that this Canadian troupe orchestrated has a number of academic case studies written about it and an INSEAD penned Harvard Business Review paper that introduces the red ocean, blue ocean strategy concept using Cirque as a central example. In the School of Management at Royal Holloway we use it as a business model innovation case study that brings sumptuos visual appeal and a touch of glamour.
From the minion like character, who popped up out of a man hole in the stage floor to interject a randomly striking mime that marked the transition from one phase to another, the creative designers brought a masterful combination of effects. Kooza is an Asian themed performance that unusually dispenses with the DNA like French accordian musical style and brings flowing saris and macho maharaja costumes with an elephant safari like bandstand housing the musicians, all glittering with rich reds and glimmering gold.
Speaking clowns, rather than the typical global audience friendly mime act, offered the opporunity for faster humour that used overtly sexual audience interactions, picking on both genders more-or-less equally. The pre-show took place in the stalls seating area and provided ample opportunities for spontaneous and lightly scripted interactions that helped pull the audience together and quickly transition beyond the traditional expectant and apprehensive reserve.
Music was more contextual than centre stage, different from Alegria. The darker use of voodoo or Dia-de-las-Muertes skeleton characters perhaps seemed to jar a little, although the loose conceptual story line that usually joins the eclectic mix of spectacluar costume, movement, music and amazing acts of skill was difficult to appreciate.
No matter, the stage is always resplendent with not one, but two and sometimes more divergent points of visual appeal, really linking the performance elements in too rigid a structure was likely to reduce the spectacle, rather than enhance it. Trying to keep up and not miss any of the action is for me part of the transcendental experience. You just want it to keep going-and-going and never finish as you look on in a hypnotic, trance like state.
The extra wide, slightly swinging red velvet seats in the stalls of the opulent Royal Albert Hall setting, not your regular crammed or plastic affairs, offer a sense of luxury as you are surrounded by golden framed red curtained boxes, or loggias as they are dubbed. The circular access offers less congested interval provision of ice creams and drinks, although the mens facilities were all the way around the other side, which ever way you came at it.
Basking in the late afternoon winter sun on the steps overlooking this cultural homage domed venue, as a group of young students played skate hockey increased the feeling of indulgence. The chance to experince this superb public space justifies the ticket price alone, worry little what you are going to see.
But if you get the chance next year to see another Cirque du Soleil show, book it ! Grab your chance to experience something totally amazing. Do not fret about the cost and go for the best seats in the house. Trust me, It will be worth it !
Images are all author photos (of advertising bill boards outside the venue). MBADirector is a non-commercial blog.