by contributor Wendy Gordon
Photos credit: Neshan H. Naltchayan
Video by Janet Donovan
Wednesday evening brought the premiere of Cirque du Soliel’s Quidam to the Verizon center. Quidam is Latin for 'anonymous passer-by' and is an intense and imaginative journey that transforms an alienated world into a place of hope and connection.
Originally staged in 1996, Quidam is Cirque’s more theatrical story of a jaded little girl who has seen it all and has found the world to have no meaning—but is transported to the world of Quidam. Her rage explodes in this world of fantasy ranging in performance from purity to cruelty to poetry and tenderness.
The performance begins with a headless, umbrella bearing presence who can only be described as resembling Magritte’s “Son of Man;” the (green) apple in that painting represented by the appearance of red balls and balloons of varying sizes. As for the umbrella, rain and thunder play a role as well—pin lighting representing showers and drums, thunder to mark a transition or end of scene.
Quidam is an artfully choreographed athletic ballet infused with high wire acts, wheel, banquine, climbing rope, diabolo and aerial contortion. There is not a moment the stage or above is not filled with some glorious movement to catch the attention regardless of where the audience’s eye is drawn.
Many of the acts encompass incredible synchronization and unearthly body control combined with amazing timing and stamina. This is not what you learned in your elementary school gym class, trust me on this.
The artistry in this Cirque-originated genre is unmistakable. Everything from the use of brightly colored textiles flowing from the ceiling to the ghost-like appearance of the core cast, which is mind-blowing in its simultaneous simplicity and complexity.
The featured performers are costumed against a simple, almost industrial set with live music, varying from Gypsey King-esque to haunting dirges accompanying the movement.
The highlights are not limited to the feline-like flow. Among the most appreciated acts of the evening were those of the ‘clowns,’ whose pantomimed audience participation acts were perfectly staged and acted by both the lavender-jacketed comic relief to those selected from the throng to join on stage.
Like everything in Cirque du Soliel’s now vast repertoire, Quidam is spectacular, entertaining, artistic and breathtaking. It captures the imagination; explores the mind in all of its many facets; and is all in all intriguing.
Quidam runs at the Verizon Center for a mere 8 performances, November 16-20. Tickets are still available at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/quidam/tickets/washington.aspx.
We suggest you run, vault, fly in a rope…whatever your form of transportation, and get your seats as soon as possible. You won’t be needing them, however, when you stand up to applaud.
A peek inside: