They’ll fly. They’ll leap. They’ll spin. They’ll leave audience members breathless.
Later this week, more than 50 of the world’s greatest acrobats will perform in Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” in Wichita.
A “Quidam” is a nameless person on a nameless street in a nameless city: He or she is one of the masses. But these people, through the use of imagination, bring light into a young girl’s darkness.
Zoe, performed by Alessandra Gonzalez, is upset with her parents. She does not feel she is important to them.
“In the beginning she is really sad,” said Gonzalez, a native of Rome who was chosen out of 2,000 actresses for the lead role. “At the end, she grows. She can find the happiness being with her family.”
Patrick McGuire from Pittsburgh plays Zoe’s elusive father. This world-class juggler manipulates a bowler hat, an umbrella and a briefcase.
“She’s desperately trying to get our attention,” McGuire said. “We’re in our grownup world. When she gets fed up with that, she gets lost in her imagination.”
And it is the world of imagination that transforms the stage into a larger-than-life arena. By using swings, high wires and vibrant colors, cast members from 18 countries, including Russia, England and Japan, intertwine storyline, cultural techniques and artistry.
Many performers in the Quebec-based troupe bring their country’s acrobatic traditions to the stage. Chinese acrobats perform the diablo or the Chinese yo-yo. Acrobats from Germany spin in a wheel – often defying gravity. Artists from Spain dive and twist above the stage by using their native land’s web technique.
Although there is a story line, the main thrust of the show is breathtaking acrobatic performance supported by 52 cast members wearing 250 costumes, 30 hats and more than 250 pairs of hand-painted shoes.
“The show opens the door to the imaginary world that Zoe is going into,” said Jessica Leboeuf, a spokeswoman for Cirque du Soleil. “People connect organically from one human to another.” But, she said, the message is not forced on the audience. “Two people sitting next to each other will get different messages from the show.”
What “Quidam” does best is entertain on all levels, she said. Through the use of aerial images, acrobatics and lighting, this performance shows off human skill and discipline in an inspirational way.
“But we keep it intimate,” Leboeuf said. “You always know where to look.”