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The Five Craziest Things You’ll See at Cirque du Soleil

The Big Top is back in town, and here are the wildest contortions you’ll see at the show.

The aerial bicycle   Photo: Martin Girard/Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

The blue and yellow striped Big Top is pitched at the United Center parking lot once again. After four years, Cirque du Soleil made its grand return to Chicago last week with KURIOS–Cabinet of Curiosities. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, an inventor is convinced of a hidden world beyond what we know, and finds just that in his curio cabinet. Otherworldly creatures step out of the cabinet and create mysterious, enchanting illusions through acrobatics, comedy, and contortion.

The show runs now through September 20, but we stopped by on opening night to catch the stunts. Here are the five craziest things you’ll see at the show: 

1The Russian cradle duo

Russian dancers in a music box escape their confinement and jump to life to perform a duet based on trust and precision. The duo climbs a 13-foot tall structure where the man acts as a human trapeze, flinging his partner into the air while she intricately somersaults, and catching her once again.

2Aerial bicycle

An acrobat jumps on her bicycle suspended in midair and flies through the air in various positions. She holds onto the handlebar and wheel by a leg or a foot, dangling in the splits. At one point she sits on the seat, pedaling the bike as normal, while she and the bike are hanging upside down.

3Contortion

A mechanical hand centered on the stage carries four deep-sea creatures balancing on top of each other. In fast-paced, synchronized movements, the creatures contort into back bends one on top of the other to create the illusion of one large creature.

4Upside down world

A dinner party guest piles chairs diagonally on top of each other on top of the table and balances on top of them. After continuously adding more chairs, the audience’s attention is directed above, where the same scene is happening upside down on the ceiling. A man hanging upside down on a chair, seemingly defying gravity, competes against the other man to reach the chandelier in the middle.

5Banquine

In the closing act, 13 artists work together to create sequences of synchronized dance and acrobatics that demand the strength of multiple bodies to perform. The acrobats separate into pyramids three and four people high on each other’s shoulders and propel the top person onto the hands of another person on the next pyramid, miraculously sticking the landing. The seemingly effortless tosses and catches of acrobats between pyramids had the audience on their feet.

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