Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 13, 2009

Cirque du Soleil

I don’t remember the last time I watched a circus, though I am sure of watching one as a child. Since, my memory of watching a circus performance fails me; my knowledge of circus is only through stories written by Satyajit Ray (the famous Indian filmmaker and writer), news paper articles and posters. For many reasons, I have never watched a circus performance till last week.

We would not have watched Cirque du Soleil (French for “Circus of the Sun”), performing too. For one, we would not have known whether it was in Auckland since those pages in newspaper are typically given a miss two the shows are very expensive and three we were unaware of their reputation since such shows never come to India. However, the social organisation – Oxfam, with whom we have developed an attachment after coming to New Zealand, was generous enough to gift my wife two tickets for the premier show here in Auckland.

Cirque du Soleil, are visiting Auckland for the second time. This time they have come with a new show called ‘Dralion’ which have not been performed in New Zealand before. For us, though it did not matter which show they are performing since we were unaware that they were one of world’s most famous circus company based in Canada and boasted of a tremendous fan following. As we took the bus to the venue on a very cold evening, we knew we would be watching a grand show. This belief resulted from speaking to a few people who have watched their shows around the world.

On reaching the venue, we had some issues finding the entry to the tent. However nearly thirty people had the same problem, so we walked together in quite a jovial atmosphere. While we were walking I was remembering had we faced the same issue in Kolkata, we would have already got crowd voicing their displeasure. Here, such things seldom happen.

On entering the tent, we were greeted by press photographers (because it was a premier show) and by the smiling attendants. We were happy to find very nice seats too in front of the stage and our excitement reached a peak.

The show was on time and for two and half hour (with a twenty minute break in between), what we saw was nothing short of spectacular. Dralion (where Dragon from East meets Lion from West) blends Eastern and Western forms. Essentially, the theme represented creation of universe. While Buddha featured as a playful but sane child, the other performers wore colour co-ordinated clothes representing Earth, Air, Water and Fire. There were clowns too who probably represented human beings. We did not do much to relate the theme to the acts, as we were awe struck from the very beginning.

We have not seen such acts ever and it seemed unbelievable that these acts are performed on stage, day in and day out. I wondered how much practice does it take to perfect such inhuman acts (essentially performed by children), how much risk do these people take to entertain us, what if there is an accident. We were thoroughly entertained and the standing ovation after the show was nothing compared to the amount of entertainment that we got. All the acts were performed with a live music playing in the background and singers singing songs.

It is very difficult to single out any particular act for appreciation as all of them were superb. I wonder how would I choose between a child who virtually played with her body all while balanced one-handed on a stick or between performers who did death-defying trampoline acts to climb up high walls or between performers who effortlessly played out a love story using silk to climb up and tumble down. Then there was this juggler who juggled with some ten balls while doing dance moves at the same time.

There were not a single moment when we felt bored or our attention was diverted towards anything else but the performances. Perhaps only bit of imperfection where one of the tumblers knocked over the hoops he was trying to dive through, made the performers look like humans.

We were privileged to watch such a show.

Not always we enjoy everything that we face, staying outside our home. Trust me; it is certainly not the best times of our lives that we are spending at the moment. Despite that, we thank Oxfam from the core of our hearts to have provided us with the opportunity to see such a grand show. As far as Cirque du Soleil is concerned, I am sure they would not do any harm to their reputation in a hurry. They are a bunch of geniuses.

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Responses

  1. It is amazing that you got to watch Cirque du Soleil perform. I have seen snatches of their shows on TV and yes they are brilliant. They seem to be the royals in their field so to speak. I think they even perform even in front of various heads of state. Lucky you 🙂 I hope I watch them perform someday 🙂

  2. First, ‘Dralion’ reminded me of Tigon and Litigon in good old Alipur zoo. You may have missed Russian circus and Gemini Circus but I am sure you remember Tigon and Litigon. Secondly, children were performing dangerous stints – had this been in India we would have screamed about exploitation, child labour:)

    I agree about the que, though, in India for such a show the entrance would have been obvious and so discrete as it is there:) and we know how to express our displeasure, especially if we dont get our money’s worth.

    Keep it up Tanmoy, someday I will share my thoughts about Britain..


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