‘Cirque Éloize: iD’ at The Lyric Opera House by Amanda Gunther

Imagine a world where the sounds of the cityscape are all you can hear, and street dancing is all you know. Now imagine that all you can see is the incredible feats of dare-doing acrobats and artists blending their tricks of the trade seamlessly into this cityscape. Arriving at The Lyric Opera House for three performances only — the last leg on their North American tour of the 2012-2013 season, is Cirque Éloize: iD

Directed by Jeannot Painchaud, this incredible fusion of street art performance mingled with acrobatics and dancing is one of the most lively shows to hit the stage this year. With a multidisciplinary artistic approach, this show features 14 artists on stage, 13 circus disciplines, and the discovery of an urban terrain which brings a whole new spin to the concept of performance art.

Lisa Eckert in the Cyr Wheel. Photo courtesy of Cirque Éloize iD.
Lisa Eckert in the Cyr Wheel. Photo courtesy of Cirque: Éloize iD.

A rich city landscape — varying throughout the performance from scene to scene — is projected onto what can only be described as an ever-shifting block-like structure. Set Designer Robert Massicotte has crafted the set to accommodate the most insane of circus like tricks, the stage has pop out units, varied heights and shapes, and is essentially climbable with openings and entrances that appear and disappear on cue. It’s a multi-sensory experience watching the set as it moves about between the sound design that goes along with the projections and the actual movement of the stage piece. Doubling up as the Visual Designer, Massicotte’s projections enhance the performance tremendously, making moments a visually stunning tension and amazement occur right before your eyes.

The acrobatic routines in this show are nothing short of breathtaking and stunning. Some of them even appear death defying. Acrobatic Designer Krzysztof Soroczynski brings daring challenges like full body flips in midair from high above the stage floor directly down onto a trampoline to bring edgy thrills to the performance. Soroczynski’s work must be seen to be believed between the mountain biker that hops vertically up the constructed set to the crazy tricks performed inside of jump-rope swings; it’s a visual masterpiece.

Co-Composers Jean-Phi Goncalves and Alex McMahon develop a stunning urban soundtrack that sets a definite tone of modern happening to this performance. Mixing and pulling from genres such as hip-hop and electronic, Goncalves and McMahon accentuate the show’s youthful and playful urban energy. There is a rough edge to the soundscape making the break-dancing and hip-hop moves raw and alive as they are performed to this intricately woven sound designs.

A circus act, even if it is urbanized and brought indoors, is not a circus act without a juggler. And iD has one hell of a juggler in Nicholas Fortin. Amazing the audience with his snazzy tricks, juggling in all manner of positions and managing as many as seven balls at once, Fortin takes this simplistic trick and turns it into a masterpiece of concentration and amazement. Keeping the audience’s attention with the world’s oldest party trick is no easy task but Fortin succeeds with vigor and really outdoes himself when he starts juggling whilst laying down off a glass reflection board.

Everyone loves aerial feats of daring and iD has two varieties of high-flying danger to enthrall the onlookers of the audience. Justine Mèthè-Crozat takes to the aerial hoop while Jesse Huygh plays it a little more dangerous with the free-straps. The upper body strength these two performers display is mind-blowing. Watching them dangle and spin themselves with only one hand or foot attached to the hoop or strap and then watching them hoist themselves upright mid air is both shocking and thrilling. They both perform complex routines set to pumping background music, soaring to thunderous applause high above the stage on their respective apparatus.

The Urban Dancers of Cirque Eloize iD. Photo courtesy of iDCirque Éloize iD.
The Urban Dancers of Cirque Eloize: iD. Photo courtesy of Cirque Éloize iD.

The Cyr Wheel, a metal hoop that brings a new perspective to girls and their hoops, is performed with amazing precision by artist Lisa Eckert. Spinning round and round on the ground in ways that defy gravity she amazes the audience again and again in this tricky routine. And if you think you’ve seen enough things that defy the laws of physics with this tricky circle, think again as Emi Vauthey takes to the stage twisting her body in ways that the human body doesn’t look like it was ever meant to twist. In her first routine it’s all for show, the second has Vauthey developing a playful character — similar in movement to a spider, if a spider were actually a human with its feet, legs, and derriere swung up over its head for walking. Her body-bending shocks and awes the audience as she vertically climbs up the set and disappears right through a seam in the wall.

The whole ensemble gets to participate in some crazy fun antics on the “Trampowall.” While everyone has a fun bounce — literally falling off the high heights of the set and onto the waiting trampoline below, bouncing up onto it and back down again — the lead ‘Trampowall’ artist is Ignacio Adarve. Practically diving from the highest of heights and performing the most intense of flips and tricks midair, Adarve keeps this show-ending routine living up to the amazement you would expect from such a miraculous creation.

And keep your eye on The Biker! Thibaut Philippe rides a mountain bike throughout the show. Generally no big deal, right? Wrong! Philippe does more than just ride this bike. He hops obstacles — including a human volunteer from the audience— like he’s on a pogo stick rather than a bicycle and scales the face of the set like he’s rock climbing, only on a bike. Words cannot describe this death-defying amazing feat; it must be seen to be believed.

Thibaut Philippe on the Bike Trial. Photo coourtesy of Cirque Éloize iD.
Thibaut Philippe on the Bike Trial. Photo courtesy of Cirque: Éloize iD.

Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.

Cirque Éloize: iD played three performances on January 5 and 6, 2013 at The Lyric Opera House – 110 West Mount Royal Avenue, in Baltimore, MD. For more information on upcoming events at The Lyric, visit their website.

To find out where Cirque Eloize: iD is headed next, click here.


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