Le freak, c’est chic

quidam, cirque du soleil, Statue Act, Photos Matt Beard and Costumes Dominique Lemieux lCirque du Soleil’s combination of oddity, artistry and virtuosity in Quidam at the Royal Albert Hall on January 7 wows Marianka Swain

The wilfully obtuse title of this mind-bending show refers to an anonymous passer-by who escapes the crowd by proclaiming their individuality, but it’s more a celebration of the exceptional than the average, unless we all have within us the ability to dangle from the ceiling in a precarious, eye-watering rotating split.

Quidam follows a long tradition of bored children wandering into magical worlds and, as story is not Cirque du Soleil’s strong suit, that entry is the extent of the plotting. However, the little girl’s escape from indifferent parents does provide some striking images in this Dalí-esque otherworldly dreamscape, such as their entire living room suddenly taking flight or her perpetually newspaper-reading father silently walking on air, paper plastered to his face.

Director Franco Dragone and choreographer Debra Brown create a relatively seamless production, although both background players and transitional clowning border on irritating. Like a jukebox musical attempting narrative, sometimes you feel it would be best to let the hits speak for themselves.

And what hits they are. Quidam packs in 11 jaw-dropping acts featuring world-class performers putting a new twist on old tricks. Cory Sylvester makes a gymnastic exercise wheel effortlessly cool, casually standing on the frame through a series of risky rotations and bouncing in and out of strangely elegant flips.

Read my full Dance Today review here

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