Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” Impresses and Inspires

Sarah Pacitti and Drew Howard offer their respective takes on Cirque du Soleil’s “QUIDAM”, during its brief residency at the Valley View Casino Center, in San Diego.

By: Sarah Pacitti

Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam on Friday, April 1st at the Valley View Casino Center, was easily greater than “the greatest show on earth,” as it brought the understanding of what a circus is to whole new heights…really high heights. The performers in this elaborate spectacle took the audience on a wild ride, all through the imaginative mind of a young girl named Zoé, the main character who struggles with the boredom of her everyday life. The journey started with a simple knock on the door of Zoe’s family home. Who from, you ask? A man named Quidam, with no head, carrying nothing but an open umbrella in one hand and a blue bowler cap in the other. And so, the story began.

From start to finish, it was the perfect tale of the desired escape from reality, but a purposeful escape, as the story-line served to teach that, perhaps, imagination can help one to better appreciate and understand real life. This departure from the “real world” included acts of all kinds, as the performers showed off their skills in the arts of contortion, acrobatics, balance, flexibility, and comedy. The flawless and precise movements of each individual performer worked to accentuate and highlight the seamlessness of the show in its entirety.

In Quidam, an artist in a metal hoop circulated the performance space, faster and faster, spinning the audience into a dizzying-state of utter hypnosis. Twenty performers gathered around the stage jumping rope all at the same time, while they rotated positions and flipped over one another in the air. A most impressive male and female performing duo relied on their shared strength and balance in order to create breath-taking sculptural positions from just the movements of their bodies–at one point the female held only by laying flat across the palm of the male’s hand. Need to take breather yet? With all the hula hoops and jump ropes, Quidam appeared to be the Olympics of recess yard-inspired games, but with a whole lot more of technique, energy, and jaw-dropping displays that truly astounded the audience.

But wait, there’s more. MORE? Audience interaction, too? Yes. The use of such audience involvement was incorporated perfectly, giving the spectators a few moments here and there to take that breather that they needed after having just witnessed a series of mind-blowing, gravity-defying acts. Comedic relief at its finest. Members of the audience were pulled onto stage, sometimes against their will, all in order to take part in skits that involved acting in pre-determined story-lines, the use of different props, and responding to the silent cues given to them from the comedic masterminds themselves.

In the tale of Quidam, the imaginative world created by Zoé helps relieve her of her boredom, and sends her on a whimsical ride.  Bored like Zoé? Take part in the escape from reality with the Cirque du Soleil experience, performances in varying parts of California until May 15.

Statue, photo cred.-Al Seib


Aerial, photo cred.-Al Seib

By: Drew Howard

When I was around 10, I had the good fortune of attending a Cirque du Soleil performance in San Francisco with my aunt and brother as a Christmas gift.  Since then, I’ve always wanted to go back.  When I read on Travelzoo that Cirque du Soleil’s newest arena show, Quidam would be coming to San Diego I knew I couldn’t miss out.

Over fifty world-class acrobats, magicians, and singers from all corners of the globe, united in one massive spectacle of a show.  If you aren’t familiar with Soleil, it is a Quebec-based organization with humble beginnings as a troupe of passionate street performers .  Last year, Soleil presented 20 shows simultaneously throughout the world.  Their shows have been seen by close to 100 million spectators, in 300 cities, on 5 continents (logistics nightmare?).

How lucky they happened to be in my backyard in sunny San Diego for a brief, eight show stint.

The show took place in the venerated shell of a venue known as the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena).  Though the venue wasn’t quite the ideal environment to view the show, Quidam could have taken place virtually anywhere and left the same impression on awestricken attendees.

The lighting was incredible, with a roaring band, and innovative stage design.  Each of performers in their elaborate and carefully-designed costumes had equal chance to shine, and none disappointed.

From the opening act, known as the “German Wheel” where an acrobat manipulated his body around a large metal hoop with uncanny grace, to the “Statue-Vice Versa” where a male and female performer displayed unimaginable feats of sheer human strength.  I watched the whole show with my jaw on the floor, as the performance was truly incredible.

The incredible acrobatics displays were interjected with comical character diversions which included audience participation and improv comedy gusto.

This lighting and music-induced sensory overload, coupled with world-renowned acrobatics and a cleverly scripted story forced the question–why was the arena barely half full for a 7PM show on a Friday night?

Was everyone at the Valley View Casino Center’s namesake establishment, playing keno, eating $9.99 prime rib dinners?

Maybe it was a lack of marketing, maybe no one cared to visit pay the prehistoric venue’s exorbitant parking fees, or maybe all of San Diego had too rough of a day at the beach.

Regardless, those who did catch Quidam were pleased with their decision, because it was the best thing to hit SD since daylight savings ended, and I think I might have even impressed my date.

Spanish Web, photo cred. Al Seib