Cirque de la Symphonie
@Jones Hall for
the Performing Arts
April 26th-28th, 2019
Cirque de la Symphonie makes its way downtown this weekend, opening at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. The touring circus troupe based in Athens, Georgia was created in 2005 by William H. Allen and Alexander Streltsov. The performances involve a variety of minimalist contemporary circus acts synchronized to the music of a live symphony orchestra. The concept of the Cirque has been positive both commercially and critically, with shows typically selling out and receiving positive reviewes by critics.
Allen first conceived of the idea of pairing circus arts with fine art in the 90s while travelling in Russia and working with Russian circus performers. There, he recruited Streltsov to work with him in the United States. In 1991, Allen began staging shows featuring circus performers with local orchestras. In 1998, the pair collaborated with Erich Kunzel of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra to produce a show that paired an acrobat with a symphony orchestra. The show received a strong positive response, leading Allen and Streltsov to stage similar shows in a number of other states the following years.
The performances are
deliberately minimalist . . .
The success of these shows led to Allen and Streltsov formally incorporating as Cirque de la Symphonie 14-years ago.. Their first major show was with the Houston Symphony. The circus, currently based in Athens, Georgia, is now solely-owned by Streltsov. Stretslov functions as its president and managing director.
Cirque de la Symphonie performs exclusively with live symphony orchestras, with circus acts synced to the orchestra's music. Cirque de la Symphonie has performed with over 100 orchestras around the world, including performances in Malaysia and Hong Kong. The intent of Cirque de la Symphonie performances is to add an additional dimension to the music by providing a visual element choreographed with the music. To that end, the orchestra always performs on stage with the acrobats, never in an orchestra pit.
The music is selected in collaboration with each orchestra's conductor, and may include selections from the classical canon, excerpts from ballets, portions of movie soundtracks, and other pops orchestra standbys. The performances are deliberately minimalist, rarely featuring more than two performers on stage at any given time, and avoiding "heavy, gaudy costuming" in order to give equal prominence to the music. Cirque de la Symphonie acts are distinctively adapted to very tight spaces compared to traditional circus performances, which typically take place on larger, more open stages. In contrast, Cirque acts are often constrained to performing in spaces no more than twelve to fifteen feet wide, in concert halls not engineered for aerial performances.
This weekend Cirque de la Symphonie returns to the Bayou City where it all started with the Houston Symphony.
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