Sunday, February 21, 2010


Anytime I see or hear Elvis, I'm captured.

When I read about "Viva Viva Elvis," the new show Cirque du Soleil's presenting, I had to stop what I needed to do, and read, and read some more.

Twyla Tharpe's choreography for "Moving Out" and "Come Fly with Me," the Broadway shows she's created, and for the movie version of "Hair," is uniquely inventive, exciting -- capturing the crackling energy of dance that's dancing, more than steps. It's not the flow, or the incredible lifts, splits, leaps, acrobatics that you haven't seen before. There's something about Twyla Tharpe's eye, and what her body sees, feels and communicates to the dancers' bodies (not their souls, their bodies) that becomes real dancing.

Why am I mentioning Twyla? (I shared a program with her in Spoleto, and we did not hit it off -- I was too involved with drama and she was, at that time, into abstract dance.) But now she's grown into a top level choreographer, like Jerry Robbins, and Martha Graham, who have done full evening works in dance, that are considered masterpieces.

Well, I went searching for the names of the choreographers who've created for Cirque du Soleil, the huge ... what to call them? -- dance plays? no -- dance opuses? no -- dance paintings with bodies and costumes, and objects -- ropes, umbrellas, tops, balloons, batons, yards of cloth, springs, sleds ... I've run out of words because the invention of the huge concoction of a show that is Cirque du Soleil, never stops -- it goes beyond my imagination. (And I have a big imagination.)

In black light, in smoke, in shimmering strobe lights, in water, in the air -- where ever, what ever the locale -- someone in the Cirque family does something that no one else can do.

Twyla Tharpe is an exceptionally inventive choreographer. Cirque Du Soleil takes movement beyond Twyla Tharpe, Jerome Robbins, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine. (I threw in Balanchine's name, but he wasn't a creator of new ways for the body to express itself. He transformed ballet steps into music, and fused them.)

I looked for the name, the names of who started Cirque du Soleil, in dance books, encyclopedias, and online references, and gathered some. I thought, after I saw the first show, that it was Franco Dragone, but he left, and others replaced him. And the unreal (what I have to call miraculous creations), have kept happening -- full-length evenings, innovative concepts, and fulfillment of the concepts.

I think the main creators are: Guy Laliberté, Daniel Gautier, Guy Caron, Franco Dragone, Daniel Lamarre, Gilles Ste-Croix, Vincent Paterson, Armand Thomas,. Daniele Finzi Pasca, David Shiner and Deborah Brown, a gymnast/dancer/choreographer. (Skim the names, no point in holding onto them. Deborah Brown's name appears often, and Laliberte even more often. I mention them out of respect, but the individual names detract from my message.)

There is nothing in theater that I know of that is better, larger, more amazing, fantastique, mesmerizing, "mind blowing," more sheerly inventive, evocative, stunning, as Cirque du Soleil. It sets your thoughts, your eyes, your ears, your skin, your heart, your muscles on fire.

If I listed all of Martha Graham's works, Merce Cunningham's, Paul Taylor's, Alvin Ailey's, or Twyla Tharpe's, .it would be impressive, but not as grand -- not full-length, fully mounted, large shows, each as different in scope, idea, and style, as these Cirque masterpieces:

Mystère, O, La Nouba, Zumanity, Kà, Love, Zaia, Zed, Criss Angel Believe, Viva Elvis, Saltimbanco, Alegría, Wintuk, Les chemins Invisibles, Les Échassiers, Dralion, Nouvelle Experience, Delerium, Quidam, Varekai, Corteo, Koozå. Ovo.

That's it. Describing each of these works involves too much name-dropping, and boring detail.

"Viva Viva Elvis," the man, the talent, echos. Cirque's "Love" show (based on the Beatles), echos, because Elvis and the Beatles were so much a part of my life. Just reading the reviews on "Viva Viva Elvis" is exciting -- it certainly sounds as if the show is thrilling and touching. I love to watch Elvis, love to hear him sing, love his music, and l sooner or later I'll get to see it.

I've said all I can say. I just want to salute the builders who built Cirque du Soleil.
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