What goes on underneath the bright blue-and-yellow big top of Cirque du Soleil is a scale model of what's going on in the world as a whole.
Just as every major city becomes a melting pot of ethnic neighborhoods, this strange modern circus is an eclectic mix of styles and performers from around the world (in this case, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Holland, the Ukraine, the United States, the Ivory Coast and the production's country of focus, China).
Even its music has a world beat combining Hindu melod ies with the sounds of Africa, Andalusia and the West. The lyrics are sung in a global gibberish that mixes Italian and Latin, among other things.
Cirque du Soleil performs in the tent across from the George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Convention Center Boulevard. January 17 through February 17. $26 to $42. For tickets, call 800-678-5440.
But most of all it's the American-style showmanship, with its big-budget production values and slick special effects, that pushes Cirque's conventional circus acts closer to the realm of dance and theater.
Kelsea Ballerini - The First Time Tour
TicketsWed., Dec. 14, 7:00pm
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. St. Edward's University Hilltoppers Men's Basketball
TicketsThu., Dec. 15, 11:45am
MIX 96.5 Not So Silent Night with Train and Fitz & the Tantrums
TicketsThu., Dec. 15, 8:00pm
Flosstradamus - Hi Def Youth Tour 2016
TicketsFri., Dec. 16, 8:00pm
The multinational entertainment company's show, Dralion (a combination of "dragon" and "lion," two traditional Chinese dances), was conceived as its own self-contained, fantastical universe. The circus acts are broken up into Aristotle's four basic elements, which are conveyed by different kinds of movement: water is interpreted as Indian dance; air is a more classical style, like ballet; earth conjures up images of Africa; and fire is a form of martial arts. Director Guy Caron added in a fifth element from Chinese mythology, the soul. It falls on the Chinese acrobats to somehow express this intangibility.
Though technically adept, the disciplined and introverted Chinese had problems adapting to Cirque du Soleil's trademark acrobatics, which require not only technical proficiency but an ability to act and dance. The Chinese could mimic any move they saw, but tell them to slink like a cat or act like a flame, and they were lost.
In the end, the choreographers had to work around the difficulty. "They add their own vocabulary," says Caron. Bringing together elements of vastly different cultures can have its conflicts.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly guide to events in Houston, and never be bored again. With suggestions for every day of the week, our recommendations will keep you busy on any budget.