I doubt that even in their wildest dreams Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier, two Canadian street performers, would have dared to imagine the success of their brainchild, Cirque de Soleil, when they founded it as a touring troupe a little over 30 years ago. Originally scheduled for a one-year run, the company now makes around $810 million annually with simultaneous shows on every continent except Africa and Antartica. Using traditional circus skills and without the addition of performing animals, the company has found fame with its ‘nouveau cirque’, a style of contemporary circus that encompasses circus skills from a range of nations.
The name Saltimbanco, from the Italian ‘saltare in banco’ (or ‘jump on a bench’), references this show’s USP: it features traditional circus characters including acrobats, clowns and even ringmasters. It’s the oldest touring show of the company and it’s perhaps fitting that Saltimbanco is enjoying a new run as the creators suggest it’s meant to be a celebration of life and an antidote to modern times. This is perhaps the biggest selling point of the whole Cirque de Soleil experience: a chance to escape, however briefly, from reality. In a world where entertainment has become digitalised and a significant level of human interaction removed, sitting under a big top and watching feats of daring acrobatic skill and classic street performance harks back to an age of more innocent and simple fun.
Just a note of warning: the pure physicality of the show will doubtless prove to make Saltimbanco enjoyable for most; however, the element of moralising ‘save-the-world-through-clowns’ message might be too much for some.
Palau Sant Jordi
Until January 10th