Cirque du Soleil's "Kurios" | reviewed Karren LaLonde Alenier | Scene4 Magazine | September 2016 |

Karren LaLonde Alenier

If you did not get enough time this summer seeing the Olympic gymnasts in Brazil perform, then treat yourself to an offering from Cirque du Soleil. On August 13, 2016, this reviewer saw Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities in Cirque’s fully air-conditioned Grand Chapiteau tent set up in Tysons, Virginia. Having already seen and reviewed for Scene4 Magazine three of the current twenty Cirque offerings—O, Ka, and Totem, did not diminish the cathartic pleasure of drinking in the color, grace, and power of the awe-inspiring spectacle of the two-and-one-half-hour
Kurios. This is a show that makes you believe that you too could fly through the air and be caught before falling.

While there is a formula for Cirque shows—distinct characters who appear throughout the show; lively music that has a folk element or period influence like the Roaring Twenties; the best acrobats, gymnasts, circus show people; actors who interact with the audience; dramatic lighting; some kind of loose storyline or theme; etc.—the ingredients for making a successful show always present in a stimulating way that is fresh and makes the audience want more.


The storyline for Kurios concerns an inventor who is turning his Victorian timeframe on its head. We see a bicyclist pedaling in air first upright and later upside down. We are invited into the belly of Mr. Microcosmos where his alter ego Mini Lili lives in her fully furnished Victorian parlor. We see projections of finger puppets on a big screen while simultaneously we watch the puppeteer Nico Baixas making his fingers work to portray, for example, a break-dancer and skateboarder. We also see something that looks like a hologram but turns out to be another set of performers working from the ceiling of the tent in an exact mirror image of a chair-building balancing act.


Among my favorite acts were the contortionists working on top of a mechanical hand. These Asian performers bend their bodies in ways that look like an exotic plant with many tendrils. The costuming is exceptionally eye-catching with body suits that have subtle ruffles and the front of the body suit sports with nonconforming stripes and the back is a regularly spaced set of blue polka dots on an orange background.


Remarkably, the athletes—who tumble and jump, who stack chairs to balance on, who juggle, who climb ropes and swing from them—are accomplished actors. The creative team headed by Cirque founder Guy LaLiberté and Creative Guide Jean -François Bouchard boast 17 creators, including the Emmy award-winning writer and director Michel LaPrise. This show includes 116 tour members from 22 different countries and some of them have been touring with Cirque for more than 20 years. Kurios counts 426 props which is the most for any production in the history of Cirque du Soleil. Before heading off to the show, an audience member might consider exploring the extensive details about the characters and acts that are published without cost to the viewer on the Cirque website. The website also provides several minutes of the discreet songs threaded through the show. The graphically beautiful programs are expensive. The show runs in Tysons, Virginia, through September 18.

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Scene4 Magazine — Karren Alenier

Karren LaLonde Alenier's most recent book is
The Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas. She is a Senior Writer for Scene4.
Read her Blog.
For her other commentary and articles,
check the Archives.

©2016 Karren LaLonde Alenier
©2016 Publication Scene4 Magazine


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Volume 17 Issue 4

September 2016

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