Eight circus performers made the nearly impossible look easy last night at Mizner Park Amphitheater, drawing some 2,000 attendees for Festival of the Arts’ Cirque de la Symphonie. The program paired the disparate forms of the symphonic concert and the Cirque Du Soleil-style variety show. We witnessed aerial showmanship, impossible feats of balance, juggling wizardry and light magic, with Constantine Kitsopoulos leading the peerless Festival Orchestra Boca through live compositions that reflected the performers’ actions.
The eclectic musicians set the tone with Rossini’s “William Tell Orchestra” and its vibe of Big Top excitement, and continued through Bizet, Tchaikovsky, John Williams, Rimsky-Korsakov and many others, during which time most cirque performers had a couple of opportunities to display their craft. It was surely one of the most unique events in the Festival’s eight-year history, successfully marrying high art with family entertainment. Here’s a look at its type five cirque highlights.
5. The aerial silks of Kai Newstead. This fresh-faced boy of 14 set the tone for the evening with this opening number. Music from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” swelled triumphantly behind him as he climbed a rope to the top of the amphitheater and tumbled all the way to the stage in wondrous cartwheels.
4. The hula hoops of Alina Sergeeva. This third-generation circus performer from Russia controlled her tool—the hula hoop—like a fifth appendage, navigating the spinning hoop around every part of her body before taking on four hoops simultaneously and becoming a human tornado.
3. The aerial straps of Vitalli Buza. The “Flight to Neverland” music from Spielberg’s “Hook” appropriately scored this high-flying number from the cirque’s top aerial showman. Buza spent most of his performance simulating flight with gliding, soaring elegance, capturing the enviable essense of childhood fantasy.
2. Vladimir Tsarkov’s “Mask.” The cirque’s resident jester was more that just its comic relief; he was also a master juggler. In this routine, he gamboled around the stage in a bright-orange suit with a vacant white mask that appeared to block his view of what he was doing—which was masterfully juggling two, then four, then six balls and maybe more in incredibly elaborate formations.
1. The hand-to-hand balancing of Sergey Parshin and Alexander Tolstikov. These two strongmen defied gravity and contorted their bodies like conjoined gladiators, justifiably earning them a standing ovation in the middle of the second act. For the high point, the smaller of the two performers balanced his entire frame on top of the bigger using one hand on the guy’s head – and then changed body positions twice! The word “Herculean” is overused in our culture, but it’s a pretty accurate description of what went down last night.