Thursday, April 28, 2011

Out of the Big Top and into the Big City-iD by Cirque Eloize

With a name that means heat lightning and a powerful, sizzling show that lives up to it's name, iD by Cirque Eloize is a must see.   Éloize, pronounced [EL-WAZ] is a word that comes from the Magdalen Islands and means “flashes of heat lightning seen on the horizon”.  An inspiration for the troupe's seven founding members, this lightning symbolizes the heat and energy that feed the troupe's spirit.   Their newest production's name, iD, comes from exploring iDentity, indiviDuality and autonomy in a culture where omnipresent images cause us to lose our reference points, making us express the same values by way of different codes.    

We were amazed as this Canadian troupe brought street style skate and bike tricks to the posh Cadillac Theatre and pulled it off with conviction.    Actors broke down the 3rd wall by biking and in line skating right off the stage, into the audience, and up and down the aisles!    They even drafted an audience member to lay on stage spread eagle while French bike trial pro, Thibaut Philippe, bounced nerve wrackingly near and over him on the rear wheel of his bike.  

The 16 characters in iD continued to wow us with aerial arts, contortion, trampoline and playfully tension filled fight and flirt scenes among urban sprawl.   And true to the multicultural richness of real cities, the talented cast includes performers from around the world.   iD is Fletcher Sanchez, Dmytro Bogodist, Alona Burlachenko, Melissa “Melly Mel” Flerangile, Nicolas Fortin, Christian “Sancho”Garmatter, Xuan Le ( a great online skater), Josianne Levasseur, Richard Maguire, Baptiste Montassier, Forty Nguyen, Hugo Ouellet-Cote, Thibault Philippe, Manda Rydma, Ryan Shinji Muray and Emi Vauthey.

Both of my kids are learning silks, trapeze, juggling, rope tricks, balancing, tumbling, clowning and stage combat at CircEsteem in Chicago, so they were entranced to see what the future could hold if they stick with it.  Cirque Eloize began with a handful of friends from a small Canadian island, and has evolved into an international touring sensation.   We happily bought an iD t-shirt and jump rope at the show, to look stylin' while we get started.

We all sat stunned as the actors engaged in aerial gang fights and posturing, flying and falling against a graffiti laden backdrop of high rises.   An urban construction site became a real life video game, as a playful juggler dodged between workers carrying panes of glass back and forth across the stage.   Chinese pole arts took  street fighting to new levels as strength gained the higher ground.    Finally, the gravity defying trampoline act made all of want to walk up walls.

The moving projection back drops were so fantastic that I was reminded of motion simulator rides on our recent trip to Universal Theme Park in Orlando.    The iD backdrop screens suck you into a black hole, give you the perspective of balancing on top of sky scrapers, and make you a part of the dizzying, glorious, cacophony of urban life.

The projection, pulsing rock and electronica music, city sound effects, lighting and urban street wear costumes all contributed to making this production a cohesive piece.  iD is more spectacle than circus, and a playful, daring, heart pounding celebration of all that the word city embodies.   Phenomenal individual aerial acts, juggling, chair stacking and contortionists all became greater than the sum of their parts as they play out their talents in an edgy, urban setting.

We've included a message from the director below that sums up iD in street smart eloquence.

At Cirque Éloize, we have always nurtured our shows through encounters with creators from different horizons. We have also always favored a multidisciplinary artistic approach, which is enriched with artists of several nationalities.
No exception lies in this new creation.

Sixteen artists on stage, twelve circus disciplines, and then the discovery of a world which is new to us, that of urban dances such as break dance and hip-hop.
I imagined this show at the heart of a city, where the omnipresence of image causes us to lose our reference points. I sought to create an aestheticism at the crossroads of comic books, science-fiction movies and the rich universe of graffiti.

The decidedly rock, electronic and poetic music, coupled with the presence of video, highlight the show’s playful, energetic, youthful and urban aspects.
In the middle of this city exists a public place. A public place, as a spot where one can seek refuge and escape anonymity, to express one’s individuality and affirm one’s identity, in order to reclaim possession of public space, and to dance the city.

An area for encounters, a site of passage, a hood where clans confront one another, where friendships are woven. Where love is created, and dissolved.
I am proud to invite you to join us on this new adventure.
Jeannot Painchaud,

Check out their web site for tickets, show photos, cast and crew bios and more.

Show times:   Saturday, April 30th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Sunday , May 1st at 1 p.m. and then next Friday,May 6th at 7:30 p.m.,Saturday the 7th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and the final performance , Sunday, May 8th. 
Tickets range from $20- $75 and can be purchased by phone at Broadway In Chicago Hotline 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at
Cirque Eloize played sold out engagements in Montreal and Toronto and were given a well deserved standing ovation at opening night in Chicago.  iD is only in the urban environs of downtown Chi Town for a limited 3 week run and ends May 8th.   Once word spreads, tickets may be hard to come by, so get yours today.   ChiIL Mama highly recommends iD for all ages.

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