Life Nomadic: Visiting Cirque du Soleil’s Roots

One great perk of being a nomad is that you get to see great shows all around the world that you otherwise may not have access to. I’ve seen Les Miserables in London, Paul Potts in Japan, and a number of shows on Broadway in New York.

Trips through Vegas, which seem to happen at least once a year, always mean seeing a Cirque du Soleil show. As you may have guessed from my previous write-up on KA, I’ve become a huge fan.

Although Cirque has now become a quintessential staple of Las Vegas, the troupe was originally founded in Montreal. So when I heard that a new show, Ovo, was opening in the famous Grand Chapiteau on the waterfront of Old Montreal, I knew I had to go. Luckily I was scheduled to visit my girlfriend, also a Cirque fan, in nearby Toronto, so we made plans to head to Montreal.

After a spectacular cup of tea at nearby Ming Tao Xuan, which nearly warrants its own post, we walked through Montreal’s pleasant weather to the tents.
For about fifteen minutes we stared at the enourmous egg (Ovo means Egg in Portuguese) on stage and pondered what they might do with it. Before we could come up with any solid theories, the show began.

I won’t give any specifics of the show to ruin the surprise, but I will say this: Ovo is the first touring show I’ve seen that rivals the permanent installations in Las Vegas. Declaring a favorite show is too gut wrenching to consider, but Ovo is definitely a contender.

My favorite element of Cirque performances are the acrobatics. Some shows have more, others have less. Ovo was packed to the brim, especially during the second half of the show. Some sequences were hard for me to watch– the maneuvers were so impossibly complicated and required such exact precision that I was actually nervous for the performers.

One performer actually missed his mark and fell. I was happy to see this, though, because it’s a signal that the directors are really pushing what is possible instead of relying on easier moves that they know can be completed easily. The performer tried again, made it, and the crowd went wild for him. You can imagine how nervous I was for him the second time around.

Another very strong element in Ovo was the music. In most Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen, and I certainly haven’t seen them all, the music is fantastic, but plays a background role. In Ovo, though, the musicians were clearly visible and several of them actually came on stage and became part of the story. This made me pay more attention to, and thus enjoy more, the music than I may have otherwise.

Like Mystere, Ovo had a constant element of humor. I found the main character (the suitor) annoying at first, but by the end he had totally won me over. His counterpart, on the other hand, was lovable from the first second we saw her. The costumes were incredible, but they’re so consistently incredible across all of the Cirque du Soleil shows that I don’t have much to say about them.

Overall, Ovo really blew me away. It was one of the very best Cirque shows I’ve seen, and seeing it in Montreal was the icing on the cake. It won’t be in Montreal much longer, but you can check out the schedule (and a short video clip) here.