Kumbalawé-mana, Urulimé! – Saltimbanco in Lakeland

If you ever need re-affirmation that Cirque du Soleil still has some magic left within, I invite you to experience Saltimbanco on its arena tour. Despite the lack of intimacy one finds inside the Grand Chapiteau, Saltimbanco is still as fresh, as fun, and as colorful as it was on the day it premiered. Those infamous Baroques are every bit the worthy ambassadors Cirque has set them up to be (having used Saltimbanco to open up new markets for the past few years), and I cannot imagine the day when the Cavaliers’ light is extinguished over them forever. When that day finally comes it will be a sad one indeed because we will be without one of the best and shining examples of classic Cirque du Soleil spectacles that still remains relevant years after its first tour began. I may weep…

Saltimbanco is a phantasmagorical exploration into metropolis life in all its myriad forms, and everything that shapes it: the people, their idiosyncrasies and the roles they play. With the majority of Earth’s population destined to live in large, sprawling cities, Saltimbanco was created as an antidote to the violence and despair typically found within, and proposes a new vision of urbanity, overflowing with optimism and happiness; a kaleidoscopic adventure in which anything can happen in an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope.

The framework of Saltimbanco – the characters – like all human beings, are born with nothing. These are the Worms, at the very base of society. All similar in appearance yet different one from the other, they must with time adapt themselves to their environment. Thus, throughout the fable, they embody various types of social characters, hoping to one day accede to the rank of Baroque, a cast of visionaries. The Baroques constitute the most important family in the world of Saltimbanco. Armed with a deeply perceptive vision of the world, the Baroques reveal the countless contradictions of our civilization and show us that imagination is our power.

Tonight I spent the evening at Saltimbanco in Lakeland.

I told myself there was only a slim possibility – a 1% chance at best – that I would see the show in Lakeland tonight (I do have plans to see Saltimbanco in Tampa Bay), but when I awoke this morning and shook off the sleep inertia, I quickly fell uninterested in the item I was working on, so I began to think and made a decision.

It turned out to be an excellent one — Saltimbanco tonight was the most awesomeist ever! And I came away with an excitement about Cirque du Soleil that I haven’t had in months. Thank you Saltimbanco. Truly, thank you.

Everyone performed to perfection tonight – the entire cast was light, airy and so involved with their character; seeing such happiness and enjoyment of one’s persona tickled me to no end. It’s wonderful when a performer gets deeply into his or her character so much so that their personality’s merge; that’s what you see here at Saltimbanco. That enjoyment trickled over to the artists performing acts on-stage; every number went on tonight – nothing was missing (except for the female Boledora, and that I can forgive as the male lived it up like nobody’s business). Even duo trapeze was on, which I had heard in conversation sometimes isn’t performed on the final day of performances. I even lucked out with the crowd, as those in attendance (at about 75%) were very into the show, even though not every seat was filled.

But there’s probably a reason for all the great reception.

It appears folks from La Nouba were in the house tonight (seated to my right) and they were “living it up”, as it were. Of course, the performers at Saltimbanco had nothing but warm welcomes for them,which they showcased on-stage: some dressed as La Nouba characters!

The first nod to the cirqusters in the audience came in the opening dance for the shows’ second half – the green bird appeared under the musician’s stand, cavorting around! Most of the audience knew nothing different, but me, and the entire section to my right, whooped, hollered and cheered! The Green Bird appeared only briefly, as compared to the other Baroque characters, but her little quick tip-toe dance she does sure brought the house down.

The second nod came during a point in the Russian Swings number at a point where the Baroques have all filled the stage, dancing wildly about in their own kind of ecstasy. Normally they break off and continue jumping off the swing, but all of the sudden the music changes from the rocking tunes of “Barok” and switches immediately to “Once Upon a Time” from La Nouba. The Baroques suddenly stop, get into position and jump from side-to-side like they do at the start of La Nouba – it was fantastic! And, of course, me, and the group to my right, were eating it up.

Green Bird made another appearance when Death appeared on stage, scaring the Baroques (she was one of the frightened!). And even a Les Con got his day in the Saltimbanco sun when the Ringmaster came running back on stage, screaming out of breath. The Les Con, played by the artistic bicyclist (Ivan Dô-Dùc), trotted to the center of the stage, looked out at the audience, pulled on his skirt in the same fashion as the real Les Cons do in La Nouba, then just nonchalantly walked off.

While only the folks from La Nouba and those in the know (like myself) knew anything out of the ordinary had occurred, these touches were simply fantastic and totally made my night.

Thank you guys!
See you in Tampa Bay!