It only takes attending or driving by Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) once to recognize their striped blue and yellow tents from that point forward. You can hear how to pronounce Cirque du Soleil by CLICKING HERE.
Images from www.CirqueduSoleil.com
This past weekend I saw my fifth Cirque du Soleil performance. Over the years I've attended Allegria, Quidam, Saltimbanco, and Varekai.
My favorite performances, costumes and music were all in the first show I ever saw, Saltimbanco.
There is so much to love about this circus. The performers are true athletes who stretch beyond the realm of whatever you think is physically humanly possible. I can still remember watching the Chinese Pole acrobats at Saltimbanco climbing up very long and thin vertical poles with so much upper body strength I felt like I couldn't believe what I was seeing even as I watched it happening.
The really exceptional performances are jaw dropping, inspiring and almost magical.
The costuming and set designs leave me in awe of the creativity of the design teams. If you're a dancer you will enjoy the choreography aspect of the shows as well. Add to the visual performance that there is always a live band and vocalists and this is no ordinary circus. The soundtrack to Saltimbanco is one of my favorites and I still listen to it to this day even though I saw the show back in the early 90's.
So hubby and I took HWY 280 North up to San Francisco on a Sunday morning and were very happy that, for once, there was almost no traffic. We took the King Street exit.
When you arrive at the intersection of Third and King Street you take a right hand turn just before AT&T Park, home to our San Francisco Giants baseball team.
You pass over a short bridge just after the park and as you do you can see two things, the Cirque du Soleil tents just another block past the ball park set up in Parking Lot A. . .
And to your left is McCovey Cove, which is where lots of boaters and kayakers congregate during ball games in the hopes of catching or retrieving a home run ball that makes it out of the park over the right field wall.
Go past the first intersection of Terry A. Francois Street and continue down Third. To your left you'll have the option of making a lefthand turn into LOT A. Parking so close costs $20 which isn't cheap but relatively speaking isn't all that expensive either as the show lasted just under three hours and the meter maids now work on Sundays so we wouldn't have been able to park at a typical 2 hour parking meter. As it was after the show we left our car there and walked to a nearby coffee shop before heading home so it felt like we got our money's worth for the parking.
The circus is held in the large blue and yellow tent formally called the "Grand Chapiteau." That's French. I mention this because Cirque du Soleil orginated in Quebec, Canada so many words are French and English words are pronounced with a French or possibly Canadian dialect. For instance the show we saw is called "Totem." Here in the U.S. we would say "Toe-tum" like a totem pole. But the proper way to pronounce the name of the show is "Toe-tem" like in "tem-porary" or "tem-perature."
This is the side of a trailer that was parked in the parking lot.
Each show tells a larger story and the performances are broken up in two ways: drama and comedy. The first is the extreme skill and talent of the performers often incorporating incredible strength and unique props that look custom made just for the show. And then there are the clowns whose comedic performances also require impressive talents in addition to acting and comedy skills.
The Totem website describes the performance this way: "TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly."
Image from www.CirqueduSoleil.com
My favorite performance at Totem were the 5 female unicyclists who rode about the stage in a synchronized fashion while simultaneously tossing small silver bowls off their feet onto their own heads and each other's heads forwards and backwards! And not just one bowl at a time. Often they were flying through the air rapid fire style. It is a sight to see!
Once you see Cirque du Soleil you will probably either feel incredibly inspired by what you witnessed or you'll feel like a lazy, inflexible slug. LOL. I felt inspired when I saw Saltimbanco but many of the people around me, especially walking out, were all commenting on how out of shape they felt by comparison. So perhaps the show is entertaining and a great motivator to get the rest of us out and doing even simple exercises on a regular basis. I definitely left wanting to take up yoga next year. I can barely touch my toes from a standing position and even then the backs of my legs burn. Now that I'm reminded the human body can be quite bendy I think I should try harder to stay flexible.
Two random tips for you: Photography is not allowed in the Grand Chapiteau and a small popcorn cost $6.22 with tax :)
If you've never seen Cirque du Soleil, watch for them during the Superbowl Half Time show in 2012. I just saw on the news while I was writing this post that they will be performing with Madonna.
Or CLICK HERE to view descriptions and links to the websites of the 23 Cirque du Soleil shows currently being performed internationally.