The dress rehearsal last night for Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, was disguised as opening night. Crowds of kids, and the occasional woman wearing her best circus high heels, trekked through the Stampede grounds to get to Parking Lot 6, now home to a 62-foot Big Top that seats 2700 people.Inside, the media had the best seats in the Top. This official media preview was the only opportunity to film the entire performance during its run in Calgary. I don’t have a big boy lens like these photogs, but my little Canon EOS Rebel SL1 managed to make it through.And thank goodness, because I was right there, front and center. Close enough to touch the stage. And get bumped by people using that fold-down stairway to the left. However, since Cirque performers are -ahem- highly skilled professionals, that never happened.From my vantage point, I could almost tell the thread-count in the juggler’s pants. Costume Designer Philippe Guillotel’s genius influenced all the couture, including the shoes. Meanwhile, every performer does their own makeup before the show. Sounds like my old Action News days in Cleveland. Except I didn’t have to paint on these brilliant masks concocted by Makeup Designer Eleni Uranis.The contortionists had another look entirely. The frilly edges along their sinewy limbs, reminded me of the koi I have been obsessing about lately.From the social media files: I hashtagged “Circus” on my Instagram account last night. It lead to a whole new world of “likes” from contortionists, a group of people I haven’t had much interaction with. Turns out that they are far from freakish — just an ultra-sexy breed of humans. Writer/Director Michel Laprise worked with Madonna on her Super Bowl performance and her MDNA tour, so the Cirque concoction of outlandish-sensual-dance-gymnast-artist-feast-for-the-eyes-and-ears all makes sense.
But it was a lady of minimal movement who entranced me the most.Antanina Satsura plays Mini Lili. In classic trippy Cirque style, she represents another character’s unconscious mind and intuitive self. In real life, the 60-year-old Belorussian refers to herself as a proportionate dwarf. One of the 10 smallest people in the world, she may be only 3.2 feet tall and 39 pounds, but she is a powerhouse on stage.Speaking of the stage, this balancing artist flew high above it –and me– just to take his jacket off.I love how Cirque du Soleil characters always have time to appreciate an outstanding performance. If I’d had time for a narcissistic moment, my selfie would have had the same expression…… while watching these aerial acrobatics! The strongman is a human trapeze.The musicians are also up in the rafters — if a Big Top has rafters. That’s Michael Levin, linking daredevil with the word cello. Most cellists I’ve seen tend to play the instrument much closer to the ground, while seated.Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS runs until May 24 in Calgary, with a special VIP opening tonight. I’m thrilled to say I’ll be there. See you tonight, KURIOS!