July 9, 2011

Cirque du Soleil: Varekai in Manila!

Forgive the blanket. Yes, I sleep under the flowers.

The world famous, Cirque du Soleil, came to Manila for the first time, and brought its touring production, Varekai. The acts consists of the Flight of Icarus, Icarian Games, Water Meteors, Triple Trapeze, Georgian Dance, Slippery Surface, Solo on Crutches, Aerial Straps, Juggling, Aerial Hoop, Handbalancing on Canes, Russian Swings and Clown Acts.

I’ve always wanted to see a CdS show ever since I was young, and then last March, I read from a blog that they’re coming here in Manila. In my excitement, I immediately bought tickets for me and my mother, and filed a paid time-off 2 months earlier the show. Since it is in my 100 Things To Do Before I Die list, it just has to happen, no matter how many drastic changes are happening at my work right now.

Last June 29th, as I got off at the Rizal Park, the Grand Chapiteau could be seen from afar so it was so hard to contain the excitement. After all, I waited for quite a long time.

If you never read the synopsis or heard Varekai's story from anyone, one would have a hard time understanding what the show is all about especially that you might expect the story from the Greek mythology because one of the main characters of the show is named Icarus. Instead of the Icarus we know falling into the sea, he lands in a forest at a summit of a volcano, inhabited by fantastic creatures.

Steven Bishop and Mercedes Hernandez made the audience laugh their hearts out. I am usually afraid of clowns, but they are not your typical clowns. They are quite the discipline for the latecomers. Annoyingly funny, but it’s just right! I love them. And I loved Bishop’s act in “Ne me quitte pas”.

The Flight of the Icarus is hauntingly beautiful. Mark Halasi did very well with such fluidity, passion and grace, seamlessly moving around the net. His theatrics as Icarus is well-embodied. Even a maven of his field, one cannot deny the dangers involved in such aerial act. It’s just amazing how he maintains his balance and grip. I wonder how he does that.

Dergin Tokmak as the Limping Angel virtuously performed Solo on Crutches with such technique, balance and strength. I only realized his condition halfway of his act, but I felt the passion right from the start. I believe he fits the role perfectly. His handicap did not hinder him from pursuing his passion, and rather used it to overcome the obstacles and stand out from the norm.

Hampus Jansson and Igor Arefiev’s Aerial Straps act is one of the engaging factors why I went to see the show. The partners are well-coordinated and breathtakingly delivered the act, with such synchronicity and grace as they glide and fly around the stage. The choreography and costume is love. I didn't like the lighting during the act though. It was red/orange, and thought that it didn't put the mood.

The other remarkable acts (and my favorites) were the Duan Hao, Zhu Qionglin, and Li Xinglei’s Water Meteors, Lasha Sakhokia, Khvicia Tetvadze, Tornike Zabakhidze’s Georgian Dance, The Betrothed, Iulia Mykhailova’s meticulous Handbalancing on Canes, and the climatic and intense, Russian Swings! The musicians played excellently, as well as The Patriarch and The Muse. I love the violinist. Also, the Skywatcher, Gordon White, and the Guide, Otis Cook brought bouts of laughter as well.

There were also dragging moments. I felt that they were all over the place, but I do get the point since it’s a circular stage. The Slippery Surface and the Icarian Games were enjoyable too, only a little dragging. The Triple Trapeze seems very amazing; however I didn’t get to appreciate it that much because of the view as I can only see it from the side.

The set design is very simple yet functional to its point. Karl Jenkins’ lighting direction is undeniably good too.

Varekai is totally an uplifting package, a box of wonders. It reminds us that whenever we fall, obstacles should never hinder us from pursuing our dreams, to do the things we love and want to do.

Aside from admiration for the performers, I bear great respect for them. They perform ideas of freedom and risk for the sake of passion and entertainment, and that is serious business. Their discipline, hard work, and dedication are intense. These people have the power to inspire, and it’s up to us to incept and do the rest.

The show may be pricey, but every cent is just worth it. It is a collaborative effort between the creators, cast and crew to make the show a lasting memory.

I might watch it again this week, and draw them!

I'm back. Thank you, Varekai.

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