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'Cirque Du Soleil Journey of Man'

Cirque to the max: Performance troupe fills the screen at Science Center

Friday, April 26, 2002

By Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Cirque du Soleil makes its first Pittsburgh visit with a stop on the North Shore near Heinz Field next month. A few blocks away, you can see them again -- larger than life and on screen at Carnegie Science Center's Omnimax Theater. The Omnimax film "Cirque Du Soleil Journey of Man" complements the troupe's upcoming performances here.

 
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  'CIRQUE DU SOLEIL JOURNEY OF MAN'

WHERE: Carnegie Science Center's Rangos Omnimax theater.

WHEN: It opens today and runs on weekends through June 16. Times are 8 p.m. Fridays, 3:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 3:30 p.m. Sundays.

INFORMATION: 412-237-3400.

   
 

Cirque du Soleil isn't the traditional Big Top circus with elephants and tigers. It's a blend of circus artistry and acrobatics, theater and dance. Now in its 18th year, the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil has several different touring shows in North America, Europe and Asia, plus ongoing productions at Walt Disney World in Orlando and Treasure Island and Bellagio in Las Vegas.

"Cirque Du Soleil Journey of Man" features some of the troupe's amazing performers in a variety of awe-inspiring natural and manmade settings: swimming gracefully among fish underwater in the Bahamas, swinging from trees in a redwood forest and performing their incredible feats against a backdrop of huge rocks and canyons and palatial buildings.

The story line follows a child from birth to adulthood. A troupe of synchronized swimmers performs a lyrical underwater ballet that creates an ever-changing series of colorful designs and symbolizes the child's birth.

The viewer follows him through the wonders of childhood -- where he's entertained by the exotic bird-like Bungees, as they fly and dive in forest treetops. The woods become a natural representation of a larger-than-life world, as seen through a child's eye. In adolescence, he tests his power and freedom.

Love and romance are embodied in the performance of a pair of human "statues," who perform a lyrical slow-motion duet. The adult rediscovers his lost childhood with a dazzling display by the Banquines, a troupe of acrobats who seem to defy gravity.

Two of the acts in the film -- the Banquines and Statue Act -- are part of Cirque du Soleil's "Quidam" show coming here in May.

The troupe wanted to expand beyond live performance with other media. They were looking for ways to broaden their creative outlets, and at the same time, make their performances accessible to a wider audience.

They decided the large-format Omnimax film was the perfect vehicle, because it allowed for closeups and an audience experience that wouldn't be possible in any other way. The up-close, 3-D format was able to convey the intensity and beauty of a live performance. "Journey of Man" premiered in 2000 during the opening of Sony's European headquarters.

Performing on film added a new kind of challenge for the Cirque du Soleil performers. The synchronized swimmers had to adjust from swimming in a heated pool to the less predictable temperatures of ocean water and the salt water's differences in buoyancy. And the underwater sequences had to be filmed three minutes at a time.

The large-format film is a unique showcase for these unique performers. Their sense of spectacle and vivid imagination translate well to the screen. Think of "Journey of Man" as an appetizer for the main course/performance of "Quidam," or as a dessert treat after seeing the live show.

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