Review: Cirque du Soleil crafts exquisite spectacle

Stage • "Quidam" is light on story, but its acrobatic feats are still a thing to behold.
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West Valley City • It's a testament to the talents of Cirque du Soleil's touring cast of "Quidam" that feats of acrobatic derring-do and precision performance still have the power to impress us, even in the midst of a digital and technological age.

The only question is, how often can you let your jaw drop to the floor? How many times can you "ooh" and "ahh" at the sight of something spectacular? Will you tolerate the almost endless temptation to applaud at the sight of yet another seemingly impossible sequence of maneuvers as more than 50 acrobats, musicians and other performers wow the crowd?

Much like staring at a gorgeous sunset from perch of a multi-million house surely there must be a limit to the amount of sheer razzle-dazzle a person can absorb in one sitting. Or is there?

It's clear that Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based performance company launded in 1984 that has redefined spectacle with its touring and Las Vegas stage shows isn't bothered with such trifling questions. You're likely to leave "Quidam," the company's ninth touring production playing through Nov. 4 at the Maverik Center, exhausted with delight. If not, then your pulse probably wouldn't rise at the sight of the Red Sea parting.

"Quidam," which hangs on the theme of solving the boredom of a girl named Zoé, starts off with a "human spoke" turning somersaults in a steel hoop, dishes up acrobatic artist Tanya Burka as she turns an aerial act with a red drape into something approaching poetry, and a rope-jumping act that recreates magical moments out of everyone's elementary school recess activity.

Thanks to the austere, icy beauty of acts such as "Statue," the show varies its pace and tone. Your aching jaw also gets a laugh break with "Clown Car" and "Clown Cinema" acts featuring copious amounts of audience participation.

It's almost ungrateful, then, to complain that "Quidam" can't match the promise of its narrative to the proportion of its acrobatic elan. The plight of Zoé warrants only cursory treatment, compared to the stunning surrealist atmosphere where the title character waltzes the stage with an oversized umbrella over his giant, headless body. When Zoé isn't on stage, she's watching from the sidelines, much like the audience itself.

Die-hard "Cirqueheads" know what to expect in advance, and the show never short-changes its legendary reputation of consummate performance skill. The music, veering from lush and refulgent to pulsing and funky, is also delivered at a high standard throughout. Only when the smog machines put an exclamation point on the acrobatic marvels does the show verge toward circus cliché.

"Quidam" may be all exotic sound and acrobatic fury signifying nothing, but the precision of the performances serve to translate spectacle into something graceful, powerful and, above all, spectacular.

Twitter:@Artsalt —

Review: Cirque du Soleil's 'Quidam'

Gob-smacking, incredible feats of acrobatic amazement in high-style and with wonderful atmosphere, but don't expect a moving story.

When • Reviewed Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 3, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 4, 1 and 5 p.m.

Where » Maverik Center, 3200 Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City

Info • $31.25-$100, at 801-988-8908 or

Running time •Two and a-half hours with 20-minute intermission.