Cirque du Soleil delivers best performance yet

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Photo: Danielle Burns

Aerial acrobats in tribal costumes act as safety nets for each other while performing on a trapeze suspended from a crane.

 

For six years now, Quebec City residents and visitors have been spoiled with free summer Cirque du Soleil shows five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday) until September 1st. In 2008, the Cirque signed a contract with the City of Quebec and it was extended another five years in 2009. The 2013 show, The Harbor of Lost Souls, is the fifth in the Invisible Paths series. In this, the final chapter, a birthday party takes place in a hangar for an elderly customs officer, whose employees help him to relive memories from his life.

The storyline isn’t always linear, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The colourful, compelling performances are always mind-blowing.

If you haven’t already seen the Cirque in action, you’re missing out! And if you’ve been a faithful follower over the past six years, you’ll be delighted by the change of venue. (Previously the show took place under the Montmorency-Dufferin overpass. While the freeway setting lent a gritty, unique ambience, the layout of the land was a little flat.) The Agora, with fresher air and raised stands, seats 4,000 comfortably, with room for many more at ground level. Result – everyone has a fantastic view without the cramped, claustrophobic atmosphere under the highway. Another improvement is the show’s proximity to the Image Mill. After the Cirque show, you should be just in time for the start of Robert Lepage’s tribute to Norman McLaren.

And in case you aren’t amazed enough after these two shows, or just because you can, you’ll have to see the fireworks on the river! They’re on the agenda on August 3, 7, 10, 14, 17 and 21 as part of the Grands-Feux Loto-Québec. Triple wow factor!

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The audience watches in nervous wonder, rooting for the performers to land  safely.  (Photo by Danielle Burns)

There was plenty of oohing and aahing at the Cirque du Soleil in an assortment of languages since the show attracts a diverse crowd of locals and tourists. “Oi yoi yoi” was one exclamation heard during a particularly harrowing number. A young couple who had already amazed us with their hand-to-hand act, upped the ante: the trusting young woman was blindfolded, then tossed in the air by her capable partner. At this point the music cut and the crowd was silent: all that could be heard was the heavy breathing of the young man doing the throwing and catching. The silence added to the drama of the moment, and the tension elicited worried looks from spectators.
The death of a Paris-born acrobat during a Cirque performance in Las Vegas at the end of June is a reminder of just how difficult the artists’
manoeuvres really are. Although they train intensively, take extensive safety precautions and are talented professionals, their acts are never risk-free. This death was the first on stage that the Cirque du Soleil has had in 29 years of performances, according to spokesperson Renée-Claude Ménard.

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(Photo by Danielle Burns)

Applause and relief exploded from the crowd when the acrobats finished successfully and removed the blindfold to hop down from their tower and soak up the appreciation.

Families will enjoy the fantastical nature of the show, which includes the appearance of a life-sized polar bear and a sky-drummer who swings in on a chandelier with his drum set!

This year is your last chance to see this world-class show free. At the Agora, until the end of July, Cirque du Soleil performances begin at 9:15 p.m., and in August, at 8:45 p.m. Don’t miss it!