How do they tumble through hoops with perfect precision, leap from pole to pole, strike a ballet pose on their partner’s head, and do it all in skin-tight costumes without even breaking a sweat?
Such glorious feats mean Le Grand Cirque is back in town with its new show Fantazie, and it’s a stunning feast of death-defying acrobatics and precision timing. Get it wrong by a nanosecond and you’d have injured acrobats everywhere.
We’re not just watching one man swing from long silky curtains and perform all kinds of twists and turns. We’re watching four people do it with immaculate synchronisation. The pole climbers come in multi-packs too, each performing identical movements as part of one inseparable being.
This new show has developed from Le Grand Cirque that played a sell-out season in Johannesburg two years ago. The most popular acts are still there, along with a selection of new acts from more than 15 countries.
Fantazie is superbly professional and absolutely mesmerising with its grand displays of easy muscular power. You’ll believe a man can fly – but only if he’s wearing pretty sequinned spandex.
It’s funny too, with the young hoop tumblers making acrobatics amusing, so you’re laughing as you’re gasping, which is difficult when you were holding your breath in the first place.
It’s all performed to pimped-up classical music, with Peer Gynt, Bolero and Night on Bear Mountain adding another layer of class to this multi-faceted show. The lighting is superb, building up high drama with spotlights and colour washes in perfect harmony with the music and movements.
A souped-up Swan Lake scene makes the ordinary ballet look almost static. And it emphasises that these performers are all world-class athletes and acrobats.
As each act performs there’s always someone shimmering and sparking in the background, so you’ve got the main spectacular event, razzle-dazzle costumes, exciting lighting and thrilling music. There’s so much to absorb that it’s a thrill for the eyes, the ears and the imagination.
There are the usual Chinese contortionists too. Well, it’s not really usual, is it, to be able to wrap your feet around you head, but there’s a troop in every self-respecting circus.
There’s even a glamour girl in plastic orange hotpants swirling a handful of hula-hoops around her. That attracted a disproportionate volume of applause from the men in the audience, and I don’t think it was her athleticism they were clapping. If hula-hoop dexterity can give you a sexy bod like that, I’m popping out to get me some.
There’s real circus feel to the show, with a bit of vaudeville, some audience interaction, and a hefty dose of glamour. There’s a clown too, in the form of a mime artist who introduces the acts without speaking a word. Yet this is no ordinary slapstick clown. He’s a strongman and an acrobat, and a man who can disappear inside his own balloon. No really – his fabulous balloon trick will blow you away.
It’s a spectacle that will entertain an educated audience as well as wide-eyed newcomers.
Book a seat even if you think it sounds expensive. Tickets start from R186, so with 50 characters in the show that’s only R3.72 for every acrobat, and that’s a ridiculous bargain.
Le Grande Cirque Fantazie runs at Joburg Theatre until Sunday, 8th August.
For more of Lesley’s musings follow the links alongside.