This summer, as I flew a kite along the shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I couldn't remember the last time I had done that. Last night, as I watched Cirque du Soleil's Kooza at the edge of my seat, I couldn't remember the last time I had done that either.
I don't mean the last time I saw Cirque or any other show for that matter. I mean the sitting on the edge of my seat part. For the first time, in a long time, I felt as if I was being entranced by actual death defying feats. And, I have to tell you, it was fun. There is something darker and more sinister than previous Cirque shows, and I liked it.
The show's story is loosely based around a small boy trying to fly a kite and a mysterious "Trickster" who shows him a world of wonders from funny clowns to teetering acrobats to dancing skeletons. Like most of Cirque's productions, the show is made up of a series of acts with clowns performing in between. Kooza held true to the format.
The trio of tiny contortionists was remarkable. It was hard to tell at times where one of their bodies ended and the next began. And the female trapeze artist along with the unicycler who rode with a woman climbing and posing on him as he rode were two of my other favorites. The Teeterboard performers also deserve kudos. One young woman did a flip off the board while standing atop massive stilts. It was madness.
But it was the double high wire and, even more so, the Wheel of Death, that had me on the edge of my seat. There were times when there was no net, no safety wire, nothing but the artists' own skill keeping them aloft. The result is thrilling. Men walk across the dual wires, as well as ride their bikes, and carry a third man on their shoulders.
The Wheel of Death almost defies description. Two giant loops are at either end of an apparatus that spins as a performer is inside each loop. They run and jump and flip. And then, one of them climbs atop the outside of the loop, and the running and jumping and flipping just keeps on coming.
And then he jump ropes up there. I think my heart stopped for a minute.
I got a real kick out of flying a kite again. There's something really fun about doing something again for the first time. Same thing goes for sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the world of Cirque to envelop me. Yes, I know. It's all smoke and mirrors. But it sure is nice to give in and let go and believe once in awhile. I definitely got a kick out of having my heart leap from my chest for the first time again just like it did when I was a kid.
Kooza is in Dallas until October 28. After that it heads to St. Petersburg, Fla. where it opens November 8th. Then it's off to Europe, starting with London, Madrid, and Bilbao.
Photo credit : OSA Images
Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil