Cirque de la Symphonie
Cirque de la Symphonie
Gymnast Vitalii Buza
Gymnast Vitalii Buza


ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Alexander Streltsov

CAST: Alexander Streltsov, Christine Van Loo, Vladimir Tsarkov, Elena Tsarkova, |Irina Burdetsky, Vitalii Buza, |Duo Design

VENUE: Grand Arena, GrandWest

UNTIL: Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm

RATING: ****

The American company Cirque de la Symphonie has a unique artistic aim, namely to reach a fusion between colourful and spirited music and all the challenging, gravity defying acts for which the greatest amongst circus artists are known.

Music is the guiding force in this process, but it never inhibits the artistic freedom these individuals want to and do achieve.

One of the most common words used in music is “movement”. Symphonies usually have four movements, and concertos three. When listening to live music performances, the only things we see moving are specific body parts of the musicians and their conductor.

The moving pictures good music might suggest can often be visualised by listeners with enough imagination, while children might intuitively start to dance to the music’s rhythm.

Who could have thought that a company would, in a very unique way, conceptualise this combination of exciting and colourful orchestral sounds with the movements we see performed by highly qualified professional aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, contortionists, dancers, and men with steel in their muscles?

Cirque de la Symphonie, now nearly midway through their second visit to our shores, do just that with eight dedicated and super-fit former circus members. The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra will also be on the stage of the Joburg Theatre during next weekend’s performances, while this weekend’s ones at Grand West in Cape Town will feature the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.

With a cast who were previously members of some of the greatest circus acts like, among others Cirque du Soleil, Circus Circus and the Moscow Circus, the mesmerising gymnast Vitalii Buza and Alexander Streltsov (their artistic director who was also a dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet), this is a company with the “crème de la crème” in their midst.

Their opening show in Durban’s Playhouse – with highly responsive and often an igniting level of musicianship by the KZNPO under the very precise and spontaneous leadership of maestro Theodore Kuchar – reflected beyond the spectacle of the most challenging parts leaving you breathless, with a specific intimate quality. It was as if the individual performer(s) often achieved a personal connection with the viewer.

Streltsov’s high-flying elegance, his spinning cube act and a marvellously expressive, floating and extremely sensitively choreographed pas de deux from Swan Lake with his partner Christine Van Loo, were no doubt three of the highlights of the show. His artistic integrity shines in the way he managed to bind a diverse presentation with a kind of smoothness that is beyond mere professionalism.

Much of this has to do with Kuchar fully understanding the particular needs of the movement of the artists and acrobats.

In the latter category, Vladimir Tsarkov is a juggler who keeps on challenging himself up to a seemingly dangerous level, but his spontaneous personality shines as strongly through the totally encompassing artistry he displays as a mimic who seldom displays a clownish level, but relies on projecting an inner human intelligence seldom experienced.

Buza’s multiple acts are jaw- droppingly impressive, while Irina Burdetsky rewrites, among other things, the history books on what can be done with multiple hula hoops. Intimate gracefulness is an ultimate quality of Elena Tsarkova’s artistry, while Duo Design, the Polish strongmen team, do the impossible with their movement and balancing acts, concentrated, slow, but death-defying in its own way.

Just go and experience the waves of movement and sound of this very original and classy troupe.