The impulse to art up the circus is an old one. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey tried it in the early 40s, when they enlisted the services of a gaggle of certified New York City highbrows, including Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine, creating a show that was despised by kids of all ages. But only in the last decade, with the rise of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, have impresarios figured out how to turn centuries-old circus acts--tumblers and contortionists, trapeze artists and clowns--into a kind of performance art. Now, like our homegrown Midnight Circus, the folks at the New York-based Cirque Ingenieux have taken this process a step further, turning the circus into theater. Trimming and reformatting the show to fit a traditional proscenium stage, which helps focus attention, they've also added a thin story--about a young girl who runs away to join the circus--to give some structure to what would otherwise be just another dazzling, eventually mind-numbing array of dancers, jugglers, aerialists, clowns, and strong men. They've also given the show a European look and feel, an original New Age score by Kitaro, and simple spandex costumes--except for the clowns, whose surreal garb seems to have come straight out of Hieronymus Bosch. Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont, 312-902-1500. Opens Tuesday, February 10, 8 PM. Through February 15: Wednesday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. $19.50-$37.50.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Carol Roseeg.