Helium Dance Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

Somewhere between the impossible possibilities of heaven and the tangible reality of earth is the cosmos of Cirque du Soleil. Corteo opens the door for audiences to glimpse a sliver of the glorious spirit before it ascends into the afterlife.

The beloved Dreamer clown Mauro has died. His life was filled with love and laughter, pranks and escapades, rejoicing and celebration. So before he steps into the light one final time, Mauro dreams about his own festive funeral “cortege” where his friends perform acts to revel in his memory.

The deeds of his delightful existence burst into the surreal world of the Cirque stage.

Teeterboard Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil has always challenged and elevated the bar of what circus shows could be. In bare bones, these may be feats you’ve seen before, but with panache and elegance like you’ve never seen before. Productions attack the senses with emotion, thrills and danger, suspending disbelief and always with splendor.

Artist Marionette Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

One of Cirque’s most popular performances, Corteo first premiered in 2005 Montreal, under the Grand Chapiteau (the big top) – a true tent circus act. It was eventually reworked in 2017 to accommodate arena style seating such the PNE’s Pacific Coliseum.

The audience is flanked on both sides of a circular stage, inscribed with the labyrinth from the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France. One side of the audience can literally see through the stage to the parallel audience on the other side. This imparts an uncanny observer-being-observed sensation, comparable to the out of body experience that Mauro is having throughout the show.

Lucas Saporiti Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2015 Cirque du Soleil

Corteo may be considered one of Cirque’s more restrained works; less pomposity and punch but more enchantment and subtle intimacy. Live musicians deliver depth to haunting melodies that are eerily bewitching and jubilantly buoyant.

There is exuberance in each of the 11 acts of jaw-dropping human athleticism, interspersed with lighter, deft scenes of nostalgia and humour. The ease and grace of each performer weave illusions that just barely tease the edges of reality. Cirque may not be a magic show but the breath-stopping feats will have you believing otherwise!

Corteo Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018

Hovering angels guide the deceased Mauro through the celebratory procession of his life, starting with a mid-air aerial dance on suspended chandeliers. The gorgeous lights distract and almost compete with the beauty of the incredible acrobatics.

Lucas Saporiti Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2015 Cirque du Soleil

Corteo is an extremely family-friendly show and peels of laughter attest that younger audience members are thoroughly revelling in each moment. They especially delighted in the second segment, a creative twist on the trampoline act with ruffly beds serving as fabric springboards.

Bouncing Beds Cirque du Soleil

The giant Cyr Wheel is a dizzying coordination of astonishing athletics.

Cyr Wheel Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

The Suspended Pole act will have you questioning whether the performer is indeed related to Spider-Man.

Suspended Pole Cirque du Soleil

Eye-popping agility and immense control is demonstrated as an artist twirls multiple hula hoops over her entire body.

Hula-Hoop Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

Both the Vocal Aerial Silk and Aerials Strap Duo acts are feats of superhuman strength and exquisite beauty.

Duo-straps Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

My favourite act of the evening was the heartbreakingly intimate and gravity-defying ladder spectacle that you have to see to believe.

Acrobatic Ladder Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

You might need to pick your jaw off the floor after seeing the final Tournik act. Four high bars are fused into a cube and acrobats hurl their bodies in coordination through this tight space, missing each other by mere inches. I’d like to see that as an Olympic event!

Tournik Dominique Lemieux 2018 Cirque du Soleil

When Mauro sends the Clowness, Valentina, out over the audience, strapped to four helium balloons, the visceral engagement of the audience is absolute. By tapping her feet, everyone is encouraged to help send her through her magical ride back to the stage.

Helium Dance_Lucas Saporiti Costumes Dominique Lemieux 2015 Cirque du Soleil

All ages will find something to love in Corteo. The production is charming and spooky, magnificent and haunting – a numinous fit for the upcoming Halloween season. Corteo is only in Vancouver until Sunday, October 14, so don’t miss your chance to experience the wonder before the Cirque leaves town.

Photos by Dominique Lemieux.

About Our Contributor Cora Li

Cora Li

Cora dabbles in arts, technology, food, and travel. She loves that Vancouver offers a vast playground for exploring all of her passions. Cora’s most memorable job to date was working with VANOC during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

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