Le Cirque World’s Top Performers: Alis, a restart with a bang

Modena, a cold December evening: there isn’t a free space in the Palapanini car park, which in itself is quite large. Two long queues in front of the entrances, families with children, engaged couples, groups of friends. It’s the audience of Alisthe longest-running production of “Le Cirque with the World Top Performers” which finally returns to the scene after the disaster of the pandemic. The last shows were those of winter 2019-2020, then the forced stop. A first postponement, a second, artists stranded abroad, endless months.

Then finally, a few weeks ago, the reopening. A restart in style, a glittering show and sold out every evening.

Le Cirque has now established itself as a brand, a high quality brand and the public has understood that inside Alis they will always find a very high level. There are no posters posted around the city, advertising now runs on social media (Facebook, Instagram…) and above all thanks to the mother of all promotions: word of mouth. Who sees shows like Alis (which was more recently joined by Tilt) is thrilled and, talking about it in enthusiastic terms, automatically becomes the perfect promoter.

At the entrance, two totems allow you to download the hall program onto your mobile phone via a QR code, an avant-garde choice, certainly ecological and in line with the reduction of waste.

As a reminder that Alis is a circus there is the traditional round track, this time raised to give even greater visibility to the acts on the ground. A metal structure with four antennas supports the scenic tower with the immense lighting and sound system; a full-height concave panel behind the track acts as a screen for the projection of the multimedia scenography.

Alis has always had the great advantage of bringing world-class artists to Italy, awarded in the most prestigious international festivals (like Monte Carlo) or from Cirque du Soleil, universally recognized as the maximum expression of contemporary circus. Over the years Alis has led artists of the caliber of Anatolyi Zalevskyi, who revolutionized the art of verticalism (so much so that today there is the “Zalevskyi” style), Viktor Kee, extraordinary juggling visionary, Dmitriy Grygorov with the amazing duo Flight of Passion on aerial straps, Ulziibuyan Mergen, amazing Mongolian contortionist and many others.

But let’s get to the show that opens with the introduction by the grand master of ceremonies Onofrio Colucci. Unfailing multicolored tailcoat, tall fairy-tale top hat and lumpy cane, with his funny gait and refined speech he is the host of the evening. Even if his character is the highest expression of nouveau cirque clowning, defining him “clown” would certainly be an understatement: he is a multifaceted artist, mime, actor of great experience, already the protagonist of several Cirque du Soleil shows (O, Zaia, Zed). He has the role of presenter-storyteller of the show and with his interventions he creates the trait d’union between the various numbers. Onofrio Colucci, who has been an integral part of the show since its first edition, is also the artistic director of the show.

Couple on stage, but also in life, Valentinen, Zaporizhzhia Ukrainian, and JuliaBelarusian (“demonstrating that peace is not only possible, but it is a normal thing”, as Onofrio Colucci will conclude in the end credits) are the duo”To Be Free” and enchant with a performance on aerial straps, which is very close to a dance pas de deux. From an unusual inverted opening, hanging only by the ankles to the final swirling tourbillon, the fusion of the two moving bodies creates a succession of ever-changing figures. The projections of the scenographies on the backdrop, the play of lights and the vocals of Rose Winebrenner carve out a highly evocative picture. With this attraction they won the Silver Trophy in Belgium at the European Circus Festival and in France at the Festival International du Cirque Val De Loire

The voice of Rose Wineburner envelops the arena while the scene and equipment changes are carried out, strictly in sight. Singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, visual artist, from Chicago, Rose has over thirty years of career, which has seen her featured as a vocalist on the show Zaia of Cirque du Soleil. He composes music exclusively for Alis and enriches it with his unique voice sometimes accompanying himself with the transverse flute.

Benjamin Kassai and Gordon Butiin art B&Goare two young Hungarian acrobats specialized in the Chinese high pole (about seven meters; there is a lower variant, of about two meters). Strength, great technique, muscles of steel, maximum concentration: they alternate challenging each other in impossible climbs, planks in mid-air, descents upside down with stops a few centimeters from the ground and exchanges in perfect synchrony. For them, a triumphal welcome at the Budapest Circus Festival and three special prizes at the Montecarlo New Generation International Circus Festival in 2019.

The direction for the contortionism of the Latvian is very original Katrina Asfardi, a kitten who wakes up and emerges sinuous from a fabric, agile and supple. An extremely versatile artist, she has moved from dance, through gymnastics to arriving at the collaboration with Cirque du Soleil. She recently she also appeared in Italia’s got talent. The finale in aerial contortion, over eight meters high, suspended only with a bite hold, is one of a kind.

The Canadian Jonathan Morin he is a veteran of Alis shows, where he has been present since the first editions. Star of Cirque du Soleil, in his constant search for the unusual and innovation, has created a variant of the cyr wheel: the double crossed wheel. In Alis he presents a spectacular series of evolutions in the “land” version: in 2018 with the same tool, but in the aerial variant, paired with Marie Eve Bisson he won the Bronze Clown at the Montecarlo International Festival.

In an ideal handover from the wheel crossed on the ground to the aerial circle. Change of lights and musical atmosphere, a scratched rock guitar arpeggio for Marie-Eve Bisson, Canadian, former protagonist of the Cirque du Soleil shows Dralion, Quidam and Kooza. Practically a life in flight. A series of sequences in movement with the circle always in rotation, without missing suspensions with the neck and with the feet, made all the more astonishing by the absence of a safety lunge. You have participated twice in the Montecarlo Festival, winning the Bronze Clown in 2018 in an “aerial” pair with Jonathan Morin.

It arrives directly from Romanengo (Cremona). Goofy Crottichampion of self-irony towards his own physicality, interprets the reincarnation of Jacques Brel singing “Ne Me Quitte Pas”. The serious atmosphere, with the lights off with only one bull’s-eye framing it, turns tragicomic, when the crazed reflector frames the most disparate corners of the room except the artist, forced to chase the beam of light to get back his moment of visibility. The ending of the song comes as a liberation, when the chansonnier is now at the end of his strength. A truly hilarious parody for a great comedian who has collected 1500 performances of the Cirque du Soleil show Totem.

A leap in time, probably very far away. Guilhelm Desq, of French origin, is an eclectic player of a thousand-year-old instrument, the hurdy-gurdy, an unusual device that releases melodies with an ancestral flavor, but with contaminations that sink into modern music, with electronic sounds and contemporary arrangements. In the background behind him large clocks of various shapes are projected, as if to underline the passage of time, in an atmosphere suspended in an indefinite era.

Thirteen veins of palm leaf, a hypnotic musical background, the concentration marked by the breath: Andreis Jacobs Rigolo, from New York City, presents a performance halfway between acrobatics and meditation, where one cannot help but follow in religious silence the construction of an incredible apparently unsafe structure, placing a twig on a palm leaf branch , which in turn is placed on another branch and then on yet another, gradually up to thirteen branches. And in the end it is enough to remove the smallest thing to bring everything down: because it is the little things, the apparently most fragile ones, that actually support everything else. An iconic number also passed for Amaluna by Cirque du Soleil.

In the show everything is taken care of down to the smallest detail, not a movement, not a gesture out of place: it is what is called “direction”. The vocalizations of Rose Wineburner are the background to a procession of six mimes in red who slowly free the track from the palm veins, while the fabric on which the Silvia Dalle Nogare, an Italian from Padua, involves and draws in, leaving everyone in suspense. Trained at the Kataklò academy, she is what is now defined as a complete “aerialist”, capable of mastering trapeze, hoop, straps and aerial fabrics at very high levels.

The closing is reserved for the duo Viceversa, a regular guest of Alis since its first edition:
Yves DecosteCanadian, is a cornerstone of Cirque du Soleil, having performed in Mystère, Quidam, Zed.
Decoste is a living monument, which was part of the cast of La Magie Continue, which back in 1986 was the first traveling show of Cirque du Soleil. He is currently in an artistic duo with Valentina Sidenko, Ukrainian from Kiev, star in turn of the shows Zaia, Zed, Quidam and Joya of Cirque du Soleil. Together they give life to a hand-to-hand number that defines “monumental” as little, whose peculiarity (and what makes it particularly difficult) is the series of sequences of lifts, planks and handstands all in slow motion.

A crescendo of highly spectacular numbers, where drawing up a ranking is practically impossible. The public is now in a frenzy. All the artists return to the dance floor and descend to greet the spectators closely. But the surprises don’t end there. In the meantime, the bulkiest equipment of the evening is being prepared on the rink: the wall with the double elastic bed. Let loose, here comes the famous”six attendants in red” that we had seen equipping the slope of colleagues on several occasions. They are the Adrenaline troupe, Ukrainians, formidable and irrepressible jumpers who combine sport and circus art bringing them to the limits of human capabilities. A succession of somersaults, acrobatic and athletic evolutions that inflame the audience and definitively close a memorable show.

In closing, Onofrio Colucci, accompanied by an enthralling rock background, presents all the formidable artists one by one for a last deserved and thunderous applause. Alis will continue its journey along the peninsula in the coming months as well. While Cirque du Soleil, in its Italian tours, brings its amazing shows to a very limited number of large cities, Le Cirque TWP certainly deserves credit for bringing great artists also to provincial cities, giving the possibility to a even wider audience to see an exciting and absolutely unmissable show.

Le Cirque World’s Top Performers: Alis, a restart with a bang