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Flash Review 1, 7-11: Running Away to the Cirque
The Angels of Cirque Plume Descend on NYC

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2001 Maura Nguyen Donohue

In a world full of extreme sports and "Jackass" MTV stars, nouveau cirque stands as a pure celebration of prowess with profundity. My favorite theater-going experiences this year revolve around Cirque based works. Cirque inspires belief in magic. It allows us momentary returns to childlike awe. We are witness to a world full of angels. Or, in the case of France's Cirque Plume, which opened last night under the big top at Lincoln Center Festival's Damrosch Park, a world full of flying musicians, flying bicycles and one lovable, slightly damaged, angel.

Any circus that opens with Hendrix is my speed. Cirque Plume's "Melanges" is truly a mixing of many elements. The evening is chock full of fantastic music composed by the charming maestro Robert Miny, and performed with wit and adroit showmanship by Laurent Tellier and Alain Mallet, who aside from a few turns on the trampoline plays several instruments including the dan bau, Vietnam's monochord. One of the musician sequences included Jean-Marie Jacquet as a literally light in the loafers tambourine player. Vocal and musical performances by Michele Faivre, Alice Waring and Brigette Sepaser are bewitching. Sepaser keeps us spellbound during her elegant turn on a microphone-enhanced tightrope.

Christophe Carrasco has all the vibrancy of a pup as he goads his fellow performers and laps up the adulation for his hanging straps routine. Juggler Iris, despite perhaps being a madman, is a sincere craftsman. When executed with great skill, juggling is unenhanced magic and the best metaphor for a modern life. Razor-sharp focus, quick reflexes and excellent timing could allow each of us to keep several pursuits simultaneously aloft. Iris's hat-juggling duet with dancer Severine Allarousse is refined, witty and merely a glimpse of the synchronicity between a man and his fated medium. Fanny Soriano's duet with her cord also reveals an artist well-married to her chosen form. Soriano's comfort on the rope is so natural, I imagine myself rigging a rope to my ceiling and spending hours wrapped in what she deceptively portrays as its easy embrace. Soriano mentions spiders in her bio and I can see where she would identify with them. This woman's home could easily be a web.

The buoyancy of Sophie Mandoux's turn on the trapeze left me wide-eyed and slack-jawed. I could feel my heart filling with light. There's nothing like watching such an effervescent performer -- and Mandoux is such a one, tiny and positively bursting with bubbles -- swing at full force way over your head to clear out the overwhelming internal din that modern living (or is that just NYC) brings you. Forget artistry, execution, sociopolitical commentary or craftsmanship, because for a brief moment this will bring you down to good ol' child-like "Wowwwwww." Brazilian-born and raised Osmar Pedro De Souza channels his capoeira upbringing to emerge as the company's resident butterfly. In my next life I'd like to come back as De Souza, the ultimate mixture of grace, power, strength and flexibility. I've figured out what I'd like for my impending birthday: at least a decade back so I can start over and run away to join the Cirque.

Cirque Plume is on view at Lincoln Center through July 21.

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