Cirque du Soleil’s art is magic

LUZIA Cirque du Soleil

My many-years-single-working-woman daughter treated us once again – a little late but in honor of Single Working Women’s Week – to a performance of the Cirque du Soleil at United Center in Chicago. Well, in the parking lot of the United Center, because the show requires such specialized equipment and rigging – due to the many extraordinarily imaginative features it includes – that they can’t set it up inside the building. They have to bring their own tents and equipment.

Imagine: a wall of water, falling from 60 feet above and not splashing the audience at all because of the carefully designed landing space on the elevated platform stage. Imagine safety railings that flip out from the edge of the circular stage so that no audience members are in danger of being struck by the wildly swinging platforms from which acrobats fly into the air and land across the stage with an ease that belies the disciplined agility of their efforts.

The physiques of the acrobats are inspiring. The women, scultped to perfection by their rigorous training and diligent practice. The men, muscular beyond any ordinary body – the contortionist so flexible it’s creepy, the strong man so intensely muscled that he can hold himself up by two ropes with both arms extended straight out. Unbelievable.

The clown is nothing like the old-fashioned image of a painted nose and big shoes doing stupid things. This clown is a central figure in the adventure of the story of LUZIA, this year’s 2017 Cirque du Soleil show. His antics are amusing and intelligent.

The sight that most awed me was the bigger-than-life-sized horse “puppet” made of pierced-metal, sculpted into real-horse parts with joints that were fully articulated – providing the priceless beauty of motion that only the body of a horse displays. The horse was operated by three dressed-in-black people inside the animal. Remarkably, their visible presence did not deter us from fully enjoying the animal in action. So lifelike. So beautiful. And the mane, flowing in the breeze. I’d love to meet the team that made this creature.

Anyway, the costumes, the lighting, the staging, the characters and the story in this show are well worth the money they charge for tickets. If you’re never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance – this is our second, and we are in love with the thing – save up if you have to. It’s a show you will remember for a long time – great place to go with a single friend to celebrate Single Working Women’s Day or Week. Or any time. The show is touring around the globe.

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What price beauty?

Is America obsessed with beauty and thinness? Well, it’s all in your mind’s eye. If you see it as critical to have the thinnest possible body, if you see it as important to being accepted; if you use a plastic surgeon for your face and body like you do a mechanic for your car; if you view people who are heavier than you as jokes or abominations, then yeah, you might be obsessed.

Got notice today from the Chicago Bloggers group about a screening of the movie “America the Beautiful.” The director is in Chicago for the screening here and will be doing Q&A after the showings this weekend.

In 2004, America spent $12.4 billion on cosmetic surgery. The estimated cost for basic nutrition and health care in developing countries: $13 billion. If those figures don’t convince you that our priorities are skewed, consider that the real cost of our obsession with youth, beauty and a slender physique is tallied in an epidemic of eating disorders, complications and death from unnecessary surgeries, exposure to dangerous toxins in cosmetics, and the equally toxic effects on a generation of young people. How did we get this way? Who is harmed by our quest for perfection? And who is profiting from encouraging the insecurities that fuel that quest? Hear from the movers and shakers of advertising, fashion, entertainment andthe media; from educators, health-care professionals and scientists; and from ordinary men, women and teens. The answers they give are astounding, with consequences far more than skin deep.

It was the top grossing film two weekends in a row. Exclusive engagement at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark Street) on Friday and Saturday (May 23 and 24) There will be a special Q &A with director, Darryl Roberts following the 7:10and 9:45 show times.

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