Cirque Mechanics brought modern tricks with nostalgic vibe
Special to the Daily
Saturday’s Cirque Mechanics show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center ushered in a breath of fresh air in today’s tech-centric world.
The show outlines the quaint story of a young man, Justin, who becomes entranced with the circus and hangs out behind the scenes, working on his own act in hopes of impressing the ringmaster.
Cirque Mechanics’ “42 Ft — A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels” wasn’t one of those shows that plays out like a constant barrage of finale fireworks, presenting such crazy costumes, acts and live music that you’re quite nearly overwhelmed (if you want that, check out Gaylord Rockies Resort’s version of Cirque, which certainly is spectacular). Instead, Cirque Mechanics takes a more relaxed approach, deliberately building up to more and more amazing acts, until it ends with its truly astonishing Russian Swing fireworks finale.
The 1920s-era costumes and women’s short hairstyles led audiences into a nostalgic world, where entertainment progressed at a steady pace and built up to an electrifying climax. It took its time with engaging comedic routines and circus parades, while still serving up plenty of jaw-dropping feats, like Battulga Battogtokh, the strongman from Mongolia who juggled three bowling balls with both his arms and his back. He later showcased his prowess with a 16-foot log, which he swung over his beefy back and arms, balanced vertically and then spun two women upon as they sat on each end of the pole. When he finished each feat, he allowed the bowling balls and pole to crash upon on the floor, proving with their great clunks that, indeed, they weren’t hollow props.
Other charming, yet spellbinding, acts featured jugglers (Tatiana Vasilenko and Esther de Monteflores) on moving mechanical horses and platforms, four artists balancing, mounting and dismounting on a revolving 14-foot ladder, a slack wire routine (by Monteflores) filled with grace, strength and flexibility and an “animal trainer” and acrobat (Austin Bradley) who jumped and spun around his startling cracking bullwhip.
In addition to the European-esque, old-timey tarantellas and waltzes of the circus music, the magnetism of the show centered around the 11 artists, who allured audiences with their remarkable expertise, presentation and charisma.
Witnessing what the human body is capable of pulling off in a 42-foot ring echoed back to simpler times, when flying, flipping and spinning two stories high was enough to bring audiences to a standing ovation. Cirque Mechanics didn’t need 14 costume changes and Uber-X Games-squared stunts to thrill audiences: Launching off a Russian swing, soaring to the Vilar’s ceiling and completing a double flip or barrel roll was more than enough.
But, just for good measure, Justin (Justin Therrien) made audiences squirm as he not only swallowed a long sword but also pulled it halfway out and let it fully drop back, deep into his esophagus.
Through its comedy, costumes and human feats, Cirque Mechanics transported audiences back to a time when the sequined draw of circus life gave rise to dreams of running away from ordinary life and joining the traveling spectacle, which, every evening, burst forth under a giant red and white striped tent.