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Beauty, Elegance, Strength, Flexibility, Humor: Words to Live By

April 24, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
If we could all live our lives with the beauty, the elegance, the strength, the flexibility and the humor of the members of the Cirque de la Symphonie troupe that performed Saturday, April 18, with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, we'd all be in great shape!

Jed Gaylin, guest conductor for the evening, compared their performances to our lives in his introduction:

"Maybe many in the audience felt they had to go into contortions to get to the concert on time. We all juggle so many activities in our life. So when we see a performer like Vladimir (Tsarkov) juggle so adroitly and with such skill, it lifts the spirit. But when he juggles with such humor and humanity, it goes beyond acrobatics and reaches art. When Elena (Tsarkova) can twist and flex in so many ways, it is indeed impressive. But she does it with such elegance and beauty!"  

The evening was amazing.

From the beautiful sounds of the Wheeling Symphony to the astounding moves of the members of Cirque de la Symphonie, it was a feast for eyes and ears ... and also a bit unnerving as well when watching the balancing, the flying and the contortions.

"... The Cirque de la Symphonie troupe are truly artists, impressing us with their skill, but moving us with their humanity as they mine and mime the human experience with their gestures. For this reason, their art is so aptly paired with the unparalleled beauty of expression to be found in live symphonic performance — each expression enhances the other," Gaylin said.

Said Bill Allen, Cirque de la Symphonie director, "There really is a nice flow of two great art forms, fused together by the power of the music."

The members of the troupe are the "best of the best," Allen said. There are gold-medal winners, world champions, who are at the "pinnacles" of the art form. "It's not smoke machines, lasers and confetti; just one or two artists on stage with the power of the live orchestra behind them."

"Everyone involved is at the top of their game," he said. They are from all over the world, and now live all over this country.

The idea emerged when Allen was with friends at the Moscow Circus on one of his 38 trips to Russia. He was introduced to the circus world — how devoted they are, how they trained.

"One day I was killing time where the circus artists were warming up. One girl came out and set down a boom box. I was expecting to hear rock, and out comes Tchaikovsky. A light went on — this is the music the artform was destined to be with."

And Cirque de la Symphonie was born.

"My goal was to develop a show — to elevate the cirque art form to the level of symphony music."

The selection of music was, of course, perfect with the cirque acts. Bizet's "Toreadors" from "Carmen Suite No. 1" played as Alexander Streltsov tossed a giant cube with his arms and legs like it was made of air. Aloysia Gavre moved with grace above the stage with the aerial hoop to Saint-Saens' "Bacchanal" from "Samson and Delilah." Irian Burdetsky spun hoola hoops like no one has ever spun hoola hoops before, to the "Ritual Fire Dance" from "El Amor Brujo." In fact, at one point she looked like a human slinky as she moved inside at least a dozen, maybe more, hoops. She even spun the hoola hoop on her hair that was twisted into a knot on top of her head!

Streltsov, who is one of the troupe's founders, pulled the emotional heart-strings as he flew on aerial silk banners to John Williams' "Across the Stars" from "Attack of the Clones." It was gorgeous.

And the piece de resistance was Ravel's "Bolero" with Darek and Jarek, two beautiful, strongmen, balancing, lifting, melting into one another as if they were made of liquid gold. Their act was breathtaking.

Allen noted that all of the artists were chosen not by audition, but by each other.

"They all knew each other. ... Artists know better than anyone who will fit," he explained.

I was particularly pleased to notice that the music was integral to the evening, and not merely background music to the cirque artistry. It all fit.

"I was also delighted to work for the first time with the Wheeling Symphony. What a pleasure! The orchestra is wonderfully seasoned, skilled and cohesive. The alacrity with which the symphony approached this concert — the enthusiasm and dedication — was absolutely inspiring. The people of the Ohio Valley have a lot to be thankful for in the Wheeling Symphony and all who make what they do possible," Gaylin noted.

I'll second that.

And if you didn't witness the beautiful artistry of the cirque performers, check out the Cirque de la Symphonie Web site to watch video clips.


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