I mentioned earlier that I wanted to see five different types of live performances. The first one (50by50: See live performances – NAC & the Tenors (#02a)) was for an NAC Pops concert with the Tenors. However, this past Saturday, I went to see a performance of the Cirque du Soleil called Volta, located across the river in Gatineau.
I’ve seen one CdS performance previously, way back in 1997 or so, and it didn’t turn my crank. But it’s progressed since then, and Andrea wanted to go for her birthday too, plus Jacob’s never been to a circus or performance like this. All together, it was a no-brainer even if the tickets are not cheap.
Interestingly too, the location is directly across from my office at work and my window overlooks the parking lot where the tents were set up. A mere few weeks ago, the “lot” wasn’t even a full lot. The whole zone is an active construction site, and yet they finalized it, paved it, and put the anchors in the ground for the installation of the tent. I got to to watch it go from parking lot to small installation to full tent over a series of weeks in July. You can see the growth below.
For those more experienced with the CdS-style of show, the “storyline” that weaves the various acts together is not that rigid. More metaphorical, allegorical or suggestive than explicitly narrated, the hint is about a small boy with blue hair who doesn’t fit in with his friends, so he becomes a “grey” performer who wins a contest to join the show, and eventually becomes a big star by conforming to what the Elites demand. But he’s all dressed in gold, even his hair is covered, and he’s not really “himself”. Eventually he “breaks free” of the show, runs off to find himself, and eventually comes to be accepted by a group of very colourful street performers (Free Spirits). Or at least that’s one viable interpretation. But again, it’s just a storyline to link various acts together.
At the start, there’s some basic dance, contortionism, and awesome rope skipping, before it moves on to a juggler. While lots of amateur jugglers — and I mean amateur in terms of their stage presence, not their physical skill — try to go for big and flashy like flaming sticks or chainsaws, this juggler was amazing with simple basketball-sized balls. He laid on this back and passed them back and forth between his bent legs, and then later bounced several of them between his legs better than I’ve seen the Harlem Globetrotters even attempt. Really simple-looking, but at great speed and dexterity.
The first half also included some rope work, a bit of bicycle balance-riding, and some other acrobatic work. But for me, the highlight was a woman bungee-jumping from the rafters and doing flips and twirls. Really quite enjoyable.
I found the second half a little less exhilarating. The three big highlights for me were some BMX riding (both climbing up obstacles as well as the grand finale of going over ramps and doing flips, while also going really high and touching a floating wall with their back tires); a woman doing some weird twirling routine looking like she was hanging from her hair, almost freaky even; and a tumbling routine where the various acrobats launched themselves through three different hoops stacked on top of one another. Andrea also really liked a ladder routine. Jacob liked everything, as he often does.
I took a couple of photos before and after, but honoured the prohibition against photos during the show (which many people ignored, either because they’re jerks or perhaps they didn’t understand the announcements, most of which were only in French). However, there are some pretty good videos shared by Volta itself, and I’ll include one of them at the bottom.
Bon matin Ville de Gatineau! #VOLTA #Premiere is tonight! Will you be under our #BigTopCirque? http://cirk.me/2h3cMeN
Posted by VOLTA by Cirque du Soleil on Thursday, August 3, 2017
Definitely worthy of counting as my second “live” performance of the year.