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By Cirque Éloize
NYU Skirball Center
566 LaGuardia Place
Box office: (212) 352-3101

I attended this remarkable 90-minute show with my 6-year-old niece, who is hard to impress and awfully fond of electronic gadgets. She nevertheless exclaimed admiringly several times that the amazing feats on display were “just like what I do in gym, only harder.” Circus performance appeals on many levels, but one of its values in our time is the way it makes physical activity, rather than virtual or proxy activity, seem like a basic source of fun and a specially bright spark to imagination. We obviously can’t all jump, climb, swing, gyrate, balance and contort with the same skill and panache as professionals, but as we marvel at such acts and fantasize about them we’re reminded (duh!) of our bodies, of the various pleasures and revelations they can provide that don’t depend on &%$#*ing screens.

The Canadian company Cirque Éloize conceived Cirkopolis for a proscenium stage rather than an arena ring. Its wondrous acrobatic routines are set against a nonstop flow of fascinating computerized background projections that depict the desolate substrata of a generic industrial metropolis—enormous gear networks, impossibly cavernous factory floors, etc., recalling Lang’s classic film Metropolis. The action has a thin narrative frame involving a grey-coated office dogsbody who listlessly stamps documents while imagining a more vivid and colorful world that materializes in the form of acrobatic and dance routines. Throughout, the dozen-odd performers don and shed grey coats similar to his, as if maintaining an association with everydayness even as they defy gravity, probability and ordinariness with their tether-dancing, pole-climbing, Cyr-wheeling, diabolo-slinging, teeterboard-jumping, and more. In the end, the show combines the charm of a fairy-tale and the delight of a cartoon with the palpable risk of dangerous live performance—a potent mixture. I noted no letup in the gasps, oohs and ahs around me at any point, either among the kids or the grownups.



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