Cirque du Soleil OVO Brings an Egg to the Times Union
Cirque du Soleil, the world famous and internationally loved Canadian Circus of the Sun, brought its show OVO to Albany, ironically bringing a giant egg into the Times Union Center. The set transported visitors immediately upon entering the arena. Forest sounds of insects and other creatures filled the air, and a giant brownish speckled egg sat prominently on the stage as performers walked through the set in costume, dancing and interacting with audience members.
In the shadow of our capital’s beloved Egg, the show featured all the elements of circus magic: costumes, clowns, colorful sets, contortionists and gymnasts like you’ve perhaps seen but have forgotten their grace. The dancers were beyond athletic, moving their bodies in convincing patterns matching insect movement. There was live music with vocalists, an accordion, and violin. And there was a story: a love story about a fly who loses his egg, find his heart, and in the process, is reunited with his egg.
This show was rather unique for Albany to host. Seeing a performance like this might seem natural in Las Vegas, New York City, or even St. Petersburg, Russia. In fact, this writer has been to the circus in St. Petersburg, and Cirque du Soleil’s OVO rivaled the best Eastern European shows I’ve seen. In Russia, circuses are fun and culturally supported treasures. In Albany, OVO has the unique privilege of standing out as a special treat as we don’t have many traveling circuses of such caliber pass through.
Featuring some amazingly strong gymnasts dressed as bugs, the main story centered on a clown character whose slapstick comedy routine was intentionally a diversion from the set changes and breaks needed by the athletic performers who would be taking the bigger risks. The clowns, however, were just as athletic in their efforts, demonstrating some feats of their own that only those who are physically fit could replicate while maintaining their storyline.
Stars of the circus, though, aren’t the clowns, but the risk takers. And that was the same at OVO, where a woman crawled out of a cloth sack as she emerged as a butterfly, a couple danced mid air with the help of a trapeze and their incredibly flexible bodies that appeared to meld together in harmony above the stage, and couples threw partners across an open net to gasping audience members as each woman was caught by what appeared only to be her fingers.
And that was before intermission.
The second half featured a juggler whose abilities with the diabolo (or four) delighted the crowd, a slack rope walker whose balance made me yearn to return to yoga class, a contortionist whose spider-like moves were both provocative and intensely frightening, and a group of tumblers whose ability to bounce up on a wall while making their intentional tumbles look easy had the crowd cheering.
A unique and entertaining aspect of this circus that might not be immediately noticeable but definitely added to the show, the set itself. It shifted around the performers’ needs. Holes opened and closed in the floor, allowing the athletes to slip quickly in and off scene; flowers bloomed on the side of the stage, adding color and much-needed beauty. Props appeared and disappeared, making the acts even more unpredictable.
The concept of bugs as gymnasts is well suited to such a performance, it seems, as it allowed the costume designers to think outside the box, building wings on legs so it truly appeared that bugs were climbing walls, spinning webs, and dancing together.
Cirque du Soleil is in Albany through Sunday, February 2nd. Good seats are still available, too. But don’t wait too long; you wouldn’t want to be stung with regret and miss it.