Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria is more than entertainment. A manifesto toward what the human body is capable of, bodies fly through the air or contort into unimaginable shapes in a precise and synchronized manner while bedecked with an air of glowing mysticism and wonder.
Alegria begins and ends like portions of the most satisfying dream with a stage that carries its viewer into another world. Performers arrive in elaborate hand sown outfits with white flowing feathers or gleaming bejeweled suits that fit like another layer of skin while their limbs stretch and elevate to the exact rhythm of their perfected craft.
The circus, based in Montreal, Quebec, was started in 1984 by two former street performers and has since grown into a contemporary circus enterprise employing more than 4000 people from over 40 countries for each show with an annual revenue that exceeds $810 million. Cirque has toured every continent in the world except Antarctica and it is no feat to discover why this visual sensation has grown so quickly in popularity.
Behind the scenes, the world’s biggest casting department collects a databank of talent whose names are either selected from auditions or by talent scouts that travel the world looking for new faces. Among the performers are champion athletes, national gymnasts, and gold medalists who train for months to leave their sport-centered backgrounds to become stage performers. As such, the beauty of cirque lies behind this discipline, where such an act as the aerial high bar, where acrobats fly and spin on an apparatus set high above the stage, not only requires exact technique but also immense talent and bravery.
No matter what age its audience member, the acrobats, contortionists, dancers, actors, and clowns of Alegria will inspire laughter as well as awe as disbelief is suspended.