2012.06.13 We met at the circus

Written by David Green.

We met at the circus

 

By DAVID GREEN

My wife and I returned from a rather harrowing experience Saturday night in Toledo. We went to the circus, or actually, le cirque.

We’ve heard about Cirque de Soleil (Circus of the Sun) for many years, but never made it to a performance. I don’t know if the group has ever performed in Toledo in the past, but our daughter, Rosanna is a follower. She’s attended four of the various shows that travel around the world.

When she noticed that Toledo was on the schedule, she knew the perfect anniversary gift awaited. She, Ben and Maddie went together to send us to the circus for our 30th anniversary.

Cirque de Soleil describes itself as a “dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment.” There are jugglers, acrobats, incredible rope jumping, high wire performances, a mime and more. It started off with a pair of street performers in Montréal in 1984 and from there advanced to a most amazing level of skill.

Maybe I should have read a little about the show before we went. “I” should have read, not “we.” For Colleen, it was a complete surprise. We drove to the Huntington Center and there were no signs outside announcing what was going on inside. We walked through the doors and still no posters about anything but the Toledo Walleyes hockey team. 

It wasn’t until I handed over the tickets at the entrance that Colleen discovered what was ahead and she nearly wept with joy. This was a special treat.

If I had read ahead of time, I would have discovered that our show, “Quidam,” is about the imagination and daydreams of a young girl whose parents are too busy to pay her much attention.

Quidam features an overhead rigging system that allows performers to suddenly appear high in the air. The show moves from city to city in 50 trucks carrying equipment, the band that performs with the group, a school for the performers’ children and a restaurant with its own French chef.

This is one of seven shows touring the U.S. There are other groups traveling around the world and there’s also a handful of resident shows in locations such as Las Vegas, Disney World and New York City. It’s grown into a large organization with more than 4,000 performers.

Quidam was a combination of amazing and funny until the first aerial act began. I remember thinking to myself, “What a way to earn a living.” A woman was high above the stage with two long, red ribbons dangling from the rigging. It was just her and the ribbons. 

She would wrap them around her legs, let go with her hands and start in with the acrobatics. I can’t describe how frightening it was; you had to be there. It was the first of many aerial performances. Picture someone hanging from a hoop only by the back of their head. No hands, just their head bent back a little.

I don’t think our small crowd was appreciative enough. What we saw was really astounding.

During the intermission, we walked outside the arena and I suddenly stopped Colleen and said, “There’s Fred Sneider.” Remember the Sneider family that lived in Morenci in the 1980s?

I wasn’t quite sure enough to go up and talk to him, but after we sat down for the remainder of the show, I told Colleen that we just walked past Pam Sneider to get to our seats. And then, at the end of the row, I noticed the woman who stood up to let us pass was the mother of the kids, Dorothy.

Soon Veronica returned to her seat in front of us and then Angie was back in the row behind us. We were deep in the Sneider section. I reminded Angie that exactly 20 years had passed since Morenci’s girls track team placed second at the state meet, and Angie was Morenci’s only performer. She still has a few records remaining.

Angie’s feats from the past were impressive, but soon the acrobats were back at it. They were launching each other across the stage. A man stood with a man on his shoulders who had another man on his shoulders and soon a woman was flying through the air to be caught by the man on top.

That’s enough of that. Let’s bring the entertainment back down to the stage. Someone’s going to get hurt.

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