Cirque du Soleil brings us the imaginary world of ‘Quidam’

By Joan Hunt - ReminderNews Managing Editor
Hartford - posted Fri., Sep. 2, 2011
Grace and dexterity are the hallmark of this performance, using hoops suspended above the stage. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

The artistry and energy of Cirque de Soleil productions are their most defining features, and “Quidam,” which is playing at the XL Center through Sept. 4, is long on both. Audiences are accustomed to being thrilled and surprised by the athleticism, the dazzling feats that are often performed on a high wire and the extreme dexterity of the performers. It is a floodlight on and a conscious tribute to the human body – even when the characters are insects, or animals, or whatever creatures the creators of these productions may dream up.

“Quidam” is, in fact, itself a dream – or perhaps a daydream – where a young girl named Zoé, already bored by life, slides into an imaginary world. She is accompanied for a while by Target, a character that chooses to live in empty space, present and absent at the same time; and, according to the playbill, she is encouraged to free her soul by other characters she meets along the way.

The acts, which began with the visually-impressive gymnastic German wheel where the artist becomes a human spoke, as it spins and twists about the stage, also included a wonderful jump rope number involving 20 acrobats and multiple combinations of jump rope activities all going on at the same time.

Four young Chinese performers using the diabolo, or Chinese yo-yo, recreated an act that won the Gold Medal at the 1995 Festival du Cirque de Demain in Paris. And perhaps the standout performance was “Statue,” performed by a male and a female moving together in a breathtakingly slow, strong and graceful performance, utilizing an amazing sense of balance and concentration.

Unlike most of the Cirque du Soleil productions, the acts in “Quidam” don’t appear to grow from the storyline, although the storyline itself is often interrupted by the Clown, who does a fantastic job of creating audience participation scenarios that often have the crowd roaring.

“Quidam” is performed indoors during this trip to Hartford, rather than in the familiar yellow tent that people may be familiar with. The set was created to look like a monolithic structure, evoking the sense of a train station or airport, where people are continually coming and going. The minimalist set is dominated by a giant arch, and the floor, built from perforated metal tiles, is illuminated from above and below, and the revolving stage is reflective of an ever-changing, unpredictable world.

According to its literature, “Quidam” is a “nameless passer-by, a solitary figure lingering on a street corner, a person rushing past and swallowed by the crowd,” and the show allows this person to speak, proclaim its individuality and “finally emerge from anonymity.”

Performances are at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 and Sept. 3 and at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sept. 5. Cal 866-321-8499 or 866-614-4183 for tickets.

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