December 26th, 2011
03:53 PM ET
Cirque du Soleil, the internationally renowned troupe of acrobats, dancers, contortionists, gymnasts, and circus-like performers, has finally set up a permanent show in Los Angeles, and the show couldn't have a better theme: filmmaking.
In its rollout of “IRIS: A Journey Through the World of Cinema,” the Cirque has appropriately chosen Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre as its tent, which some of you may know as the setting for the Oscars.
In fact, when the Academy Awards ceremony starts to prepare for its February 26 telecast next year, the show will take its annual hiatus, from January 23 to March 27.
Since 1984, Cirque du Soleil has entertained 100 million people in almost 300 countries with performances focusing on everything from mankind’s evolution to the world of insects to, more recently, Michael Jackson.
To conjure up the creativity involved in Hollywood filmmaking, the show deploys a dizzying arrangement of dance, live video, film footage and interactive projections. In all, the production features 72 performers, 200 costumes, 20 video projectors and two central characters, Buster and Scarlett, who journey through “a poetic phantasmagoria inspired by the world of cinema,” according to the show’s creators.
A statement describes the show as presenting “an imaginary journey through the evolution of cinema – from the foundations of the art form to the bustle of the soundstage – through optical effects and film genres."
Among the more memorable acts are the synchronized stunts on trampolines of numerous stunt actors performing a tribute to gangster movies, with tommy guns in hand. Their jumps and falls from buildings, scaffolds and a water tower conjure up an action movie, though executed on a theater stage.
Another act is presented as a mock filmstrip: performing in unison, dancers move between doors that resemble frames of a film, and the performers re-create a motion picture.
In addition to artists who push the human body’s performance to a perfection that Michelangelo would admire, the show’s costume designer, Philippe Guillotel, has created half-human, half-machine characters whose attire incorporate the technical inventions of early movie making.
Roaming the crowd prior to the opening act is a young woman wearing a short, cylindrical skirt resembling a praxinoscope, an old-fashioned animation device that is spun rapidly to display a moving picture of two boxers in action.
“I’m a devoted fan of Jules Verne's universe with all its mechanical gears and rivets,” Guillotel said. “When I see an old wood and brass camera I immediately want to make a costume. And I want everyone who sees the 'IRIS' costumes to immediately think of one word: cinema.”
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