Ovo is Portuguese for Egg. It is also the name of Cirque Du Soleil’s latest show, which I saw from the floor of the BOK Center last Thursday night.
Until Thursday, the most intense acrobatic feat I had witnessed with my own eyes was a woman walking a tightrope. By 10pm my mind was blown; I had an entirely new appreciation for the incredibly strenuous activities the human body can endure.
Cirque Du Soleil is a world-traveling circus troupe that originated in Quebec. The company mixes classical circus arts like acrobatics with live theater and all the colorful costumes and original music found in folk street performances.
The stunts, impressive as they were, weren’t the only thing the show had going for it. “Ovo” is a story heavily influenced by Brazilian culture. The use of insects as the subject allowed for bright and colorful scenes while the impressive live music combined native Brazilian and classical French styles.
The musical director Berna Ceppas wrote, “In my country we have one of the biggest biodiversities on the planet, tons of insects! And the same happens with our music, ‘cause we have so many music styles in a single culture, tons of music!”
The singer and musicians also played a visual role in the performance dressed as cockroaches in warm golden brown fabrics.
The show begins as a colony of insects awakens on a day like any other. On this day, a fly aptly called “Foreigner” trudges into town with an egg strapped to his back. The bugs gather around, all in awe of his egg, but he is distracted by a beautiful ladybug. In interluding scenes Foreigner spends the rest of the performance chasing after her, hoping to win her affection.
Aside from the main plot, which played out much like a regular theatrical performance, there were several acrobating scenes that highlighted the individuality of the other bugs in society.
As part of the opening act, a dragonfly hand-balanced on ivy-like metal beams that rotated in the air above the stage.
The scene for the ants came next, featuring 6 Chinese acrobats foot juggling kiwi, baby corn and each other. They juggled the fruit perfectly in sync with each other and the music even at moments when it seemed impossible. At one point, three ants laying on kiwi platforms impressively juggled two other ants between them, who in turn were juggling kiwi.
Suspended up in the air at the start of the next song was a figure cocooned in two long, flowy, beige strips of fabric that hung from the ceiling. After an elegant struggle to emerge, the dancer transformed the straps into flowing butterfly wings and gracefully fluttered down to earth. As she exited the stage, one of the three female spiders came on and performed some aerial stunts on a metal ring suspended above the stage.
A brightly dressed firefly performed high-speed diabolo tricks, juggling three spools at once. The beat that played behind him added intensity to his actions, and the background art displayed on the back wall was reminiscent of an old Owl City song.
Other acts included an acro duo of fleas, a back-breakingly talented spider contortionist and a posse of beetles who performed a stunning Russian cradle.
My favorite act by far was “Super Hero,” performed by “Spiderman,” on the slack wire. The costume beared no resemblance to the Daily Bugle photographer, and to be honest, no amount of CGI could have made Tobey Maguire half as cool. Spiderman walked, somersaulted, did a handstand and even unicycled upside down across a thin wire hovering limply above the stage. He managed to maintain that balance even as the rope swayed back and forth, at one point positioning him in a 45 degree angle from the floor.
Just before the closing scene, an orchestra of crickets set up their trampolines for fearless flights athwart the stage. Several jumped from the high wall that formed the upstage barrier and used the momentum to carry themselves back up to where they started. A spider climbed along the wall throughout the performance as if waiting for a cricket to misstep in time for her next meal. The sheer height these performers were able to capture while also making carefully choreographed movements, landing easily on spots along the wall, was spectacular to behold and made for a great acrobatic finale.
The final scene was a happy ending for both the buggish citizens and the foreigner. Each bug had their opportunity to shine, as did a few unsuspecting audience members that were dragged onstage to incur jealousy between the jaded leads, The insects were all able to feast together on the egg, and the fly finally caught his ladylove.
Until Thursday I hadn’t really considered the circus as a modern form of entertainment. It seemed a relic of the 20th century. Now, however, I can’t wait to go again!