Fans of Cirque du Soleil know that a strong storyline isn’t a key component of many of the shows. It’s more about the eye-popping acts, ethereal music and clowns. Gotta have those clowns.
But “Varekai” is different. This 2002 Cirque show has a storyline that is more obvious than any other Cirque show.
It essentially picks up from the end of the Greek myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun with his wings of feathers and wax and plunged to the sea below. “Varekai” reimagines his fate, with Icarus falling into the shadows of a magical forest. In “a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.”
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There’s a deeper meaning here: Everyone can connect with the idea of picking yourself up after a fall.
The touring show features 50 performers and 50 people behind the scenes.
The Cirque performer: Soen Geirnaert.
The act: It’s called Slippery Surface. The company describes it this way: “Darting and intertwining on a specially designed sliding surface, the artists fling and catch each other, creating an illusion of skating.” The routine features 12 gymnasts representing underwater creatures. Geirnaert is one of a trio of “fliers” which does all the handstands and contortion movements. (She’s the top, which makes her especially noticeable.)
Her background: Geirnaert hails from Belgium. The 23-year-old has been doing acrobatics since age 4. This is her first Cirque show.
The preparation: “You start with easy things, and when you’re comfortable, you can try something new,” Geirnaert says. “Slowly we start to trust each other with easy tricks, going into handstands. Then you build higher pyramids, one person on top of another.”
Does she worry she’ll fall? Nope. “They will never drop me,” she says. “They will always catch me.”
Future plans: “My job is also my hobby,” she says. “I would love to do this maybe until I’m 30.”
33,000: Number of hours spent making “Varekai’s” costumes
7: Number of performers in the band
300: Number of “trees” in the forest
32: Length in yards of the show’s catwalk
50: Number of “Varekai” performers