Cirque du Soleil is the planet’s foremost production company of acrobatic performance. Their dreamily sumptuous Corteo plays at Target Center where the space is utilized powerfully. The audience sits on two sloping sides of the big arena. The action plays out on the floor, as well as between and within the space from the floor to the ceiling of one of the Midwest’s biggest indoor sports facilities.
Aerialists twirl gracefully into contortions on giant chandeliers. Harlequins juggle bowling pins to hypnotic effect. Two beds are rolled onto the floor so that two strapping and seemingly competitive young men bounce and flip from one mattress to the other. Of course those mattresses are trampolines.
The purpose of all this vibrancy may seem counterintuitive because these are dazzlingly staged images streaming out of the life of a clown looking back at them at his funeral. However, it’s the idea of a funeral as the celebration of a life.
Corteo is essentially a psychic passage from our flesh and blood human form toward something unknown that seems quite lovely awaiting in the imminent hereafter. Splendid music, carnivalesque soundscapes, and superb historical costumes of European common folk from roughly a century and a half ago emanate a palpable aura of spirituality. Throughout the presentation, acrobats as angels enhance the space above the floor. We are utterly transported.
The comedy and the acrobatic wonder never let up. Whether it’s a little person floating above the audience and swooping down just enough for viewers below to touch her, or whether it’s a performer’s head hilariously portraying the role of a disappearing golf ball. Oh, how the ceaseless inventiveness cascades into the space between the the two side of the audience!
It is said that clowns are caught between the heavens and the earth. Indeed, this performance actually feels like a staged realization of that abstract idea. It borders on miraculous. The result is that Corteo’s vision warms our heart, tickles our funny bone, and reaches out toward the divine while it lovingly takes us along with a beaming smile on our face. One is reminded of Emily Dickinson: “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.”
Through Nov. 11
Target Center, 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis