Qatar is all set to host the world-famous entertainment group, Cirque du Soleil and their longest running show, ‘Saltimbanco,’ for the first time in the country, at Aspire Dome from July 4 to 7.
Qatar Tourism Authority is supporting the staging of ‘Saltimbanco,’ described as a fun and colourful show which embodies the values of today’s global community, promoting a message of peace, unity and happiness. There will be a total of six performances of ‘Saltimbanco’ in Doha – 8pm daily from July 4 to 7, and a 4pm matinee on July 6 and 7,” said Luke Kinmond, general manager of SDI Marketing, official Qatari agency partner of Cirque du Soleil.
The custom stadium to be built inside Aspire Dome will seat 3,000 for each performance of the two-hour show. “The culturally appropriate show for the whole family features breathtaking acrobatics and unbelievable athleticism during solo spotlights and epic ensembles,” Kinmond observed.
The show, “a vivid portrayal of the diversity that defines a metropolis” is the group’s longest running touring piece, performing to over 11.5mn fans since opening in 1992. It features a dreamlike world, with different characters performing a variety of breathtaking stunts throughout a show filled with colour, music and joy.
More than 15mn audience members viewed Cirque du Soleil shows over the past year, and 1mn of those saw the ‘Saltimbanco’ tour at various locations around the world. The show has recently been performed in Beirut, and set a record for the biggest selling show to be held in Lebanon.
Saltimbanco features 50 artists from 20 different countries, and the Cirque du Soleil team arriving in Qatar will comprise some 90 people. Cirque du Soleil was founded in Canada in 1984, and since its inception as a group of some 20 street performers 27 years ago, it has literally redefined circus entertainment, bringing the genre to over 300 cities on six continents and now employing more than 5,000 people worldwide.
‘Saltimbanco’ -from the Italian “saltare in banco”, which literally means “to jump on a bench”-explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers.
Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, ‘Saltimbanco’ takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city. Decidedly baroque in its visual vocabulary, the show’s eclectic cast of characters draws spectators into a fanciful, dreamlike world, an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope.
When ‘Saltimbanco’ was created, it was estimated that migration to cities would continue to rise. This is the premise on which ‘Saltimbanco’ is based. Cities are networks of inter-relationships, but they are also networks of paradoxes, and this is precisely what the show’s costumes build upon.
The costumes in ‘Saltimbanco’ are brightly coloured, eccentric and eclectic. Most of them are made of spandex but some of them incorporate silk and cotton fabrics. The costumes are produced in Montreal at the Cirque du Soleil international headquarters where over 300 artisans are employed in costume workshops. Most artists have three to five costumes each which can include up to 12 individual pieces. There are more than 80 different kinds of buttons that are used to maintain the costumes on tour. Over 3,000 costume items travel from city to city in more than 50 road cases and there are more than 250 pairs of custom-made shoes and those for the Chinese pole act, are repainted before each performance.
The tour travels with its own washing machines, using biodegradable detergent. The entire costume department can be packed and ready to go in less than one hour. All artistes have their own make up station that travel with the show. The artistes apply their own make-up. They are given a book that contains a detailed step-by-step procedure along with pictures to help them complete their make-up. It takes approximately 90 minutes for each artiste to apply their make-up.
Four wardrobe employees travel full-time with the tour and two or three people are hired locally in each city. The characters in the show are the Baron, Eddie, the Dreamer, the Ringmaster, the child, the cavaliers, La Belle, Multi-Coloured Worms, Masked Worms, and the Baroques.
The Baron is the audiences’ guide in the world of ‘Saltimbanco.’ He is ageless, timeless and recounts fascinating tales of the past and is an imposing figure in his black and white striped cape, long red gloves and top hat perched on a pile of serpentine hair. The Baron thinks he has power but has no authority, he is the king of fools. But when he tears off his cape, he reveals another side of his character – an erotic satyr on the prowl. At his most carefree, the Baron loves to party with the Baroques.
Eddie is a jester, a clown. He is the child within everyone. In his distinctive red cap, black bow tie, striped shorts and suspenders, Eddie finds adventure in his own imagination. Whatever he needs, he invents. Eddie moves freely between the world of the audience and that of ‘Saltimbanco.’ The child illustrates that the core of every society is its children, and at the heart of the family is the child.
The Dreamer lives between reality and illusion. He is like a clown, satirising and poking fun at the world around him. Dressed in striped blue costume and with his long curly tail, the Dreamer is always ready for a nap. But since he is responsible for looking after the child, he rarely gets the chance to doze off.
In his yellow jumpsuit with his fanciful green vest and cape, the Ringmaster struts proudly around the world of ‘Saltimbanco.’ The Ringmaster likes to be the centre of attention and often steals the show. With his winning smile and natural charm, he usually gets away with it.
The Ringmaster likes to believe he has great powers and he carries a sceptre to prove it. But as everybody knows, it is the Baron who holds ultimate control. The Cavaliers are the gentle protectors. They are calm and serene but could strike with great force if they needed to defend themselves or someone more vulnerable.
The Cavaliers are elegantly dressed with the tips of their tall black and white hats pointing towards the future. With their lanterns, they light our path through the world of ‘Saltimbanco.’ The Multicoloured Worms are the origin of all life; they are the simplest of all beings. Like reptiles, they do not know love. They follow their primal urges and are concerned only with survival.
Dressed in hooded multicoloured body suits, the Multicoloured Worms are identical yet they sometimes express their fledgling identities. The Masked Worms are the masses, the multitudes, the bureaucrats. They watch. They follow. They never act. They only react. They are the status quo. Their masks hide all expression but then they have nothing to say. The Masked Worms always keep their feet firmly planted on the ground. They play it safe. They risk nothing, lose nothing and, ultimately, gain nothing.
The Baroques sleep under bridges and emerge to celebrate life. They are defiant, rebellious and explosive. The Baroques are enlightened beings with free spirits that run wild. Armed with a deeply perceptive vision of the world, the Baroque family reflects the extreme personalities of city characters – both in their beauty and wretchedness. They are baroque in their attitude as well as their appearance.
La Belle reflects all human emotion. She is the ever-present town crier who expresses the soul of ‘Saltimbanco.’ Her language is universal and her song reflects the atmosphere around her. Her vocals are emotions—serenity and excitement, hope and joy, disappointment and melancholy. Graceful in her technicolor dress with waves of sequins, resplendent in her crown of fire like feathers, she sings about the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
The acts are Adagio, Chinese Poles, juggling, balancing on canes, Boleadoras, Russian Swing, Duo Trapeze, Hand-to-Hand, Bungees, and Solo Trapeze. Adagio, inspired by a discipline called acrosport, features three acrobats whose bodies meld together to create startling figures. A show of strength, flexibility, balance and grace, this act evokes birth, the family unit and the fragility of life in today’s metropolis.
Multicoloured Worms slip onto the stage and climb on Chinese poles, which symbolise the skyscrapers of ‘Saltimbanco.’ Leaping from pole to pole, the acrobats soar through the air in a breathtaking display of agility, power and speed. This act is inspired by a Chinese discipline and features over 26 acrobats performing at over 25 feet above the stage.
Exhibiting outstanding deftness, a juggler creates forms and figures with juggling balls. The sheer speed of execution makes for an unforgettable show of rhythm. A tribute to the many things we must juggle within our everyday lives.
Two performers twirl boleadoras in the air. A boleadora is a simple percussion instrument made of a weight attached to the end of a cord. The weights bounce off the ground and make exploding sounds either in unison or in counterpoint to the dance steps of the performers.
Invented in Argentina, the boleadoras were used by hunters in the Pampas or plains. This act is traditionally performed by men and brings together the sounds of the boleadoras and the influences of flamenco. ‘Saltimbanco’ brings it to another level with a man and woman duo.
The Russian Swing sees a family of baroque characters invading the stage, now a huge playground. Leaping from a Russian swing, performers are catapulted up to 30 feet in the air where they execute breathtaking aerial jumps before falling either on their feet, on the shoulders of their partners or atop a human pyramid!
In Duo Trapeze, high above the audience two shimmering figures sway on a trapeze and in a display of sheer harmony and beauty, they perform a stunning aerial ballet. Their movements are an ode to natural unity as the figures form two parts of a whole.
Hand to Hand is a display of tremendous power and an unwavering sense of balance. Two men engaged in a hand-to-hand duo push their bodies to the limits of human strength.
In Bungees, four performers tied to bungees swing, drop and fly in the air in ways that defy gravity. They perform an aerial ballet on an opera theme, giving spectators the impression they are looking at magnificent birds soaring through the sky.
source: Gulf Times
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