[Dixielandjazz] The Music is "Visual"

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 11 06:19:23 PST 2006

Many of us on the DJML have preached that the music should be accompanied by
visual cues. Below is an interesting parallel to that, whereby the Cirque
dui Soleil foregoes their custom built indoor stage presentations to perform
in large venues before 20,000 people or so.

Are outdoor stadiums next for them? Is this an updated version of Cartoon

Steve Barbone  

Call It a Concert, but Keep Your Eyes Wide Open

NY TIMES By JON PARELES - November 10, 2006

Cirque du Soleil undersells ³Delirium² by billing it as a concert. The show,
which started a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and
moves to Nassau Coliseum tomorrow and Sunday, is an anthology of songs from
previous productions, and it takes place in sports arenas rather than Cirque
du Soleil¹s custom-built structures. The songs have lyrics for the first
time, mostly in English. But music is the least of the show¹s attractions.

³Delirium² is a full-scale spectacle, with nearly four dozen performers in
Cirque¹s usual array of acrobatic feats and technical razzle-dazzle, eerie
tableaus and phantasmagoric costumes, all tied together with
internationalist music and kitschy profundity. ³Life begins and ends as a
question that has no answer,² a voice intones at the start. ³We are
fragments of eternity floating through space and time.² Uh, O.K.

The stage runs the length of the arena, with spectators on either side and
multistory floor-to-ceiling scrims and video screens. ³Delirium² has even
less narrative than most Cirque shows; it¹s just the crazy dream of a
character who spends most of the show dangling from a balloon, dancing along
to the music and action that is below and sometimes alongside him. Another
character races around on stilts, gibbering and kibbitzing, while women loom
as larger-than-life singers ‹ one wears a tent dress the size of a circus
tent, holding an entire dance troupe ‹ or ethereal spirits. Eventually the
balloon man finds love.

Along the way, with towering video projections on the scrims, there are
allusions to the ancient elements as well as to science (giant red blood
cells) and to Nature, with one magnificent scene that has the troupe
performing amid giant vines. The production is also about geometry, from the
symmetries of four acrobats supporting one another in gravity-defying
formations to spherical balloons to giant curved platforms that can suggest
boats or precipices.

The songs are rooted in the 1980s: that era of booming drumbeats, gauzy
synthesizer tones, gothic grandeur and newly discovered international beats.
The music in ³Delirium² features stately rock marches tinged with exotica,
Peter Gabriel style. (The backup band, Gaia, has plenty of hand drums.)
There¹s Senegalese-style singing and percussion ‹ from two brothers who
arrive in grand robes, El Hadji Diouf and Karim Diouf ‹ as well as tango
violin, quasimedieval chants, samba drumming and Miles Davis-tinged
jazz-rock. Amanda Stott belts an electropop song, ³One Love,² that a younger
Madonna wouldn¹t spurn. Robbie Dillon¹s lyrics, well, they run along the
lines of ³The door is open/but your mind is closed.²

But the music doesn¹t have to hold the foreground ‹ not with Cirque du
Soleil¹s visuals. Dancers bound and skitter across the stage; trapeze acts
hang in fabric cocoons; a woman twirls half a dozen silvery hoops while
still looking slinky. The big beat just adds to the enveloping,
hallucinatory splendor.

³Delirium² continues at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at Nassau
Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, N.Y., (212) 307-7171.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list