Circus circus 

7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m. Sunday
Cox Convention Center 1 Myriad Gardens 800-745-3000

The world-renowned Cirque du Soleil opens tonight in Oklahoma at the Cox Convention Center with the critically acclaimed “Alegría.”

From its humble beginnings in 1984 as group of 20 street performers in Montreal, Cirque du Soleil has grown into one of the most respected performing arts institutions on the globe. One of its most well-known productions, “Alegría” premiered in 1994 and has since entertained more than 10 million people. In May 2009, “Alegría” embarked on a brand-new arena tour, allowing the company to expand out to some markets for the first time, including Oklahoma City. “The arena tour has given ‘Alegría’ a new life in new kinds of venue in totally new markets,” said the tour’s artistic director, Tim Smith.

Once established in these markets, the company hopes to return in the future with different shows.

“In ‘Alegría,’ which means ‘jubilation,’ we explore many themes, including the interactions between the older generation — the establishment — played by characters in very opulent bird costumes and how they interact with the younger generation, whose responsibility it is to push the world forward,” Smith said.

The universe of “Alegría” is populated by fools, minstrels, beggars, aristocrats, children and clowns, who play out these themes in a number of visually arresting acts that include the highenergy aerial high bars and a power track, where the vibrancy of youth is epitomized through a display of synchronized choreography and tumbling on a trampoline system hidden under the stage floor.

“The show looks as beautiful as it did 16 years ago, but it has different artists, different acts and different images,” Smith said. “It lives as if it was a brandnew show, because we are constantly trying new things and constantly reshaping the acts.”

He said it was important when transferring “Alegría” to arenas that the experience was not watered-down.

“The production maintains a sense of intimacy even in the larger spaces by halving the space where the stage and audience occupy one side, and the other is utilized as a backstage area for the massive production.”

He noted that because of the nature of the show, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

“So much of the show happens in the air, so if you’re sitting way up high, you’re having an experience that someone sitting on the floor isn’t getting,” he said. “The end result of all of this is to transport the audience into another world, and we try to make sure that is the experience had by everyone that comes to a Cirque du Soleil show.”

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Eric Webb

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