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Don't miss Cirque du Soleil, now showing near Austin

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After attending the opening performance February 26 for Cirque du Soleil Varekai at Cedar Park Center just outside Austin, Texas, I can recommend this as great family entertainment. Performances run through March 2, 1014, both matinee and evenings, but don’t delay in getting tickets.

This production from the Quebec, Canada circus-themed group features amazing artistic and acrobatic talents showcased with spectacular costumes and music. Varekai features an international cast of 50 performers from 18 different countries who rely on the language of artistic expression to wow the audience. The show has over 600 costumes, shoes, wigs, hats, and accessories. Make-up is so complex that it can take up to an hour and a half to apply—and each artist does his own.

Varekai premiered in Montreal on 2002 and has since been seen by more than eight million people. It utilizes a variety of daring acts such as aerial hoop, aerial straps, hand balancing on canes, juggling, slippery surface, clowns, and much more to tell the story of a figure reminiscent of Icarus. Wings from the mythical figure who wanted to fly anchor the story as he wanders through a land filled with extraordinary figures, a land where the impossible becomes possible.

The story is set deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano--signified with periodic bursts of smoke--in an imaginary world called Varekai, which means “whatever.” After falling to earth, Icarus is wrapped into a net from which he performs aerial feats of daring and strength.

Amazing exhibitions of flexibility and balance are enhanced by colorful, gleaming costumes, some representing elements like trees or forest creatures. Stunning displays of skill and power are set against innovative music and otherworldly sets. Props used in performances include high-flying balloons, cages, wheels, and even crutches.

In one sequence a blue, slippery surface covers the stage allowing performers to slid gracefully from one side to another in their acts. It was removed in a billowing motion resembling ocean waves—an unusual but effective touch. Dancing lights and fiery red lights and costumes helped set the mood for different performances. Slinky, form-fitting body-suits revealed exceedingly graceful movements and strength of accomplished performers. In the finale, about a dozen young men flipped and swirled through the air from swinging benches, landing upright in a catcher’s hands or sliding down a sheet after being launched into a triple somersault.

Although circus traditions include comics, the humorous sketches were my least favorite part of the show. I felt that detracted from stunning acrobatic performances that brought gasps and applause many times from the audience. Vareikai is an exceptional show that the Austin area is lucky to have performing so close.

For tickets, call 800-745-3000 or go to www.ticketmaster.com

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