PHOTOPHILE- Cirqu-ainly entertaining: Saltimbanco takes our breath away


The Cirque was at the John Paul Jones Arena February 26-March 1, and– as the astonishment and delight of nearly sold-out audiences attest– it didn't disappoint. Although there were no elephants, peanuts, or tiny cars packed with too many fright-wigged clowns, there were acrobats, flamenco dancers (and rope wielders), and two trapeze artists whose physical agility and strength nearly overshadowed the whole shootin' match.

And, oh yeah, there was a shootin' match, too– and even in mime, it was a bang-up event. 

"Saltimbanco" is the title of the show, one of 15 Cirque du Soleil presentations touring the world or in permanent installations (in LasVegas and Orlando) this year. 

From the Italian for "to jump on a bench," "Saltimbanco" explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms. It was easy to imagine skyscrapers in a tower of three people awaiting the arrival of another propelled skyward from a huge swing; to see the crush of mid-town commuters in writhing, slithering shapes crawling all over the stage; or to feel part of a Cabaret scene of gaily dressed (or in the case of one ring-mistress, barely dressed) performers leaping and tumbling to ethereal opera arias from a solo singer or ear-splitting, crashing chords from a raucous rock band.

The Cirque has packed its gear– into its twelve 53-foot trailers– and moved on to another lucky city (details of the tour are available at the cirque website, But the memories of the gasp-inspiring skill and beauty will linger with locals for long after the red lights disappear.

Multi-colored hats, costumes– and performers– were the order of the night.

Agility is many performers' middle name.

Three stalwart acrobats have just captured a fourth in mid-flight from a swing!

A moment of contemplation before beginning

A brave human projectile prepares to be launched.

Even shoes have to be laced to perfection.

Out of costume, the power of performers comes through.