In Cirque du Soleil's Alegría, some of the most astonishing feats from performance arts around the world promise to awe and inspire Louisville audiences beginning this Thursday through Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center.
Contortionists will bend their bodies into shapes unimaginable in this Mongolian art form. Tribal-like fire-knife jugglers will throw their flames and blades higher and higher, faster and faster, until you can almost feel the heat. Russian Bar performances and aerialists will tease the audience's perception of gravity and balance as they fly through the air and land on bars or suspending themselves by bungees hung from the set.
The performance promises to be much more evocative than the more traditional performances one may expect from a circus-like show. The charm in this Cirque may lie closer to the darker side of human nature and curiosity.
Although I've never seen a Cirque du Soleil production live before, I expect that what sets a Cirque performance apart from a simply bizarre and amazing spectacle that an unwary viewer may suspect is the narrative. The narrative pulling the whole set of pieces together will elevate this show from amazing sounds and visuals to thought-provoking art.
This element gives depth and meaning to each performer's chosen art form, allowing the audience to see a contortionist as more than a flexible athlete, a fire-juggler as more than a talented risk-taker. The audience can see beyond that uncomfortable and unfamiliar way of using the human body and its limits to the art behind the trade.
However, the story and its elements will be surreal, enticing the audience to forget the norms and step into a world created especially for them for the two and a half hour performance. Forget the normal boundaries, Cirque begs. Come, for this short evening, into this magical land where gravity isn't take so seriously and a musical score can't chose just one genre or time period to evoke. In short, this weekend, I expect Louisville is in for a treat.
The show will be at the KFC Yum! Center running Thursday, June 9 through Sunday, June 12. Tickets are still available at www.ticketmaster.com , by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or in person at the KFC Yum! Center, the Kentucky Exposition Center, and the Kentucky International Convention Center.
Photo: Cirque du Soleil