Do you believe in magic? Masters of acrobatics, unexplainable tricks, marquees that reach the sky, tamed yet dangerous animals, and a colourful atmosphere of endless excitement… All of this evokes only one association since we were children: the circus. To a certain extent, circus is a synonym for travelling, as it is essentially a wandering theatre. Like a sponge, it absorbs acting, satire, hazard, culture, story, fashion and individuality. It’s time to find out what lies behind all the decorations and allure: the world’s most famous Cirque Du Soleil is on its way to Italy.
The Birth of a New Era
Jesters and clowns have left many traces in history: from acting on the streets of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and China, to being the characters in the plays of William Shakespeare.
However, the story of the first circus in the world dates back to the year 1770, in the form of a simple street performance. Philip Astley, known today as the “father of the modern circus”, was an off-service Sergeant Major and a brilliant trick rider. He decided to open a riding school and was in need of publicity. The solution came easy: Mr. Astley organized a series of horseback riding shows as demonstration. Success did not take long to come, and already in 1772 Astley’s circus was invited to perform in Versailles for king Louis XV.
The innovative man coined the nowadays-familiar ideas of a circus ring and chapiteau. Over the centuries, the popularity and love for circus has become massive. It’s said that Philip Astley marked the beginning of a new era in the entertainment industry.
Du Soleil & Its Origins
Moving forward to Quebec, Canada, in the eighties, we are introduced to Guy Laliberté ― an ambitious dropped out student who stepped on the path of performance at the age of 14. At 18 he left off to tour with a wandering circus; traveling all over the world as an accordion player and a fire-eater, he collected priceless experience. Laliberté’s out-of-this-world ideas for an extraordinary show led him back to Canada; here, in 1984, with the help of his friends and entrepreneurs Gilles Ste-Croix and Daniel Gauthier, he created Cirque Du Soleil.
In many cultures the sun has been a symbol of growth, energy, youth, passion, power, and even the representation of a higher self. With Le Cirque, all of this is locked within a magical arena. Determined and inspired, Guy Laliberté convinced the Canada Council for the Arts to fund their show for the 450th anniversary celebrations of Jacques Cartier’s voyage to Canada.
Taking a gamble, the win exceeded all the expectations. Not only did Cirque du Soleil become the largest theatrical production in the world, with annual revenue exceeding US$810 million, but also a national symbol of Canada.
What Makes Cirque Du Soleil Special?
It’s not the numbers, scale or popularity of the event that make Cirque Du Soleil so spectacular; it’s rather its conceptual depth. Every show has a plot line, one performance floating into the other, conveying a certain story.
“Our approach was very simple. It was about creating a universal language. A show that will be attractive toward every people coming from all over the world.” Guy Laliberté once stated.
Moreover, no animals are used: the actors put on their role, proving that maltreatment of living creatures is not essential for a great show.
“We invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world;” states Le Cirque, and this is its ultimate goal.
A Ticket Worth Buying
The show that is going to be performed in Italy is called “Varekai”, translating as “whatever” from the Romani language. The underlying story revisits the Greek myth of Ikarus. In this fantasy the boy doesn’t drown in the sea after flying too close to the sun; he rather land in a forest full of exotic creatures.
It’s interesting that Cirque Du Soleil always refers to the sun in one way or another; and this show is no exception. Moreover, it’s remarkable that 600 costume pieces will be used to make this fairytale come to life.
Therefore, do not hesitate to buy a ticket for the following dates:
- Milan Mediolanum Assago Forum―October 19th―October 23rd
- Florence Nelson Mandela Forum―October 26th―October 30th
- Bologna Casalecchio Di Reno Unipol Arena―November 2nd―November 6th
- Turin Pala Alpitour―November 10th―November 13th
Without giving away too much, the performance promises to go beyond the limits your imagination.
Circus as a Medium to Inspire Fashion
The kaleidoscopic magnificence of surreal fantasies embodies a protest, an uprising against growing up. This theme inspired artists in many fields, from literature to fashion.
During the years, brands have tried to translate the idea of never ending youth and fun into their garments.
Manish Arora’s futuristic baroque meets lion tamer girl; Marc Jacobs’ A-line mixed clown patterned dresses; Vivienne Westwood created a real queen of hearts look.
Runways have also seen John Galliano’s silent movie characters’ extravagant outfits, Victoria Beckham’s colorful dresses printed with geometrical illusions and Walter Van Beirendonck’s interpretation of a modern day fashionable clown.
Furthermore, those who prefer to go understated have a choice of accessories from Christian Louboutin, with his strappy pony hair heeled sandals that remind of animal taming, or circus motif jewelry from the Au Clair De La Lune collection by French designer Les Néréides.
If for a mere moment we catch ourselves thinking that something done on stage is impossible, it justifies every hour of intense work done by the artists. Guy Laliberté and his Cirque du Soleil are our reminders to never sell our precious wandering soul and keep following our dreams, disregarding the obstacles. Crazy, wild, unrealistic, extravagant, unachievable, insane or dangerous: if one can imagine it, it is possible.
Now, do you still believe in magic?