REVIEW: Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai

I saw the opening night of Varekai by Cirque du Soleil on July 8th at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD. Prior to the show, I looked up some reviews on Cirque’s website and was startled to see that many were negative. But after seeing the show, I can say that my experience with Varekai was anything but negative.

The show opened with a gorgeous net act. As an aerialist, I recognized many of the moves the performer was doing – but as I’ve found with every Cirque du Soleil show I’ve seen, the artistry and precision with which the performers execute routines was simply fantastic. The net act and all the acts following it were no exception. Some of the other acts included single point trapeze, straps duo, hand balancing, tumbling, Russian swing and clowning. My personal favorites were the trapeze, hand balancing and Russian swing acts.

The trapeze act was visually stunning, and the performer’s costume, choreography and use of the set and space were exquisite. The trapeze bar was raised and lowered over the stage and the performer interacted with other characters throughout the routine. The same performer also did the hand balancing act. I was especially impressed by the use of the stage for this act – usually hand balancing is not an act that uses a great amount of space, since the hand balancing canes are stationary. But in this routine there were three sets of three removable hand balancing canes used around the entire stage. Other characters moved the canes as well as the main performer herself.

The act that closed the show was the Russian swings. Russian swing is one of my favorite things to watch, but it is also one of the things with which I have little to no knowledge of its intricacies. Usually in aerial acts I recognize at least some of the tricks, but with Russian swing everything is new. So I was very excited to see this act, and it was the perfect closing to the show. It was high energy, used the entire stage and had some extremely creative rigging. Instead of landing on mats, there were large curtains that attached from the top of the set down to a tall pedestal with a cushion at the bottom for the performers to land in. The performers did some ridiculously cool things and even were caught first in a handstand, then standing by two men who were bases on top of the pedestal. I was stunned by the precision and the act in its entirety. The costumes in this act as well as the rest of the show were gorgeous and added so much to an already great production.

Overall, Varekai was most definitely equally as amazing as the other Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen. I’m very grateful to Jessenia Villamil at Cirque for setting up these tickets for me and I cannot wait for my next experience with Cirque du Soleil!

– Marzi

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