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Feats that defy rational thinking of what the human body can or should do ARE what captivate millions worldwide who see Cirque du Soleil.
The North America tour of Cirque du Soleil Quidam [pronounced key-dahm] opening Wednesday through June 10 at the Huntington Center for seven performances will beg the question: "How do they do that?"
Aerial acrobats who dangle, twist, and wrap in the Spanish Web -- five vertical ropes suspended from a 36-foot-high structure, a contortionist intertwining in silk, a human becoming a spoke in a larger-than-life size wheel are just a few of the awe-inspiring acts.
The cast of 52 hails from 19 countries, said Jean-Philippe Viens, 26, an aerial acrobat and artist who portrays Boum Boum, one of the show's main characters. The artists include champion acrobats, world-class athletes, Olympians, professionally trained circus performers, musicians, and singers.
The youngest allowed on tour is 18. The eldest in the cast is nearly 50, but you would never guess that since he looks about 35, Viens, said in a recent phone interview before a Lansing, Mich., performance. "They have a lot of self discipline. If you love it, you will make it happen."
He's been making it happen for the past two years joining the cast for the North America tour that began in 2010. Viens went to clown school at night while working on his bachelor's degree in kinesiology during the day. After graduation he took a job as a kinesiologist with the Montreal-based Cirque. He jumped -- no pun intended -- when invited to audition for the show and now enjoys seeing a different city every week.
Quidam, which means nameless passer-by, adeptly sums up the story line of this show created in 1996. This show is set apart from Cirque's 20 traveling and permanent shows which are known to have thematic storylines loosely tied together by acrobatics.
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"This is the only Cirque du Soleil fully focused on humans as a story line. Each character has human characteristics and personalities. Of course we're going to make them flamboyant and extraordinary," Viens said.
The main character, Zoe is a young girl whose busy parents ignore her. She is transported into an imaginary world when Quidam, a headless stranger, offers her his hat. She discovers everyone she meets on the street has a story. "They're not just strangers anymore," Viens said.
Viens said audiences should experience the show without preconceived notions of what will happen. "I want them to come there and enjoy, to expect the unexpected. Come and see it and try to see yourself in one of those characters because you will," he said. "It's about living. It's about passion. It's about the moment."
"Quidam" is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, and June 8, and 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. June 9, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. June 10 at Huntington Center, 500 Jefferson Ave. Tickets range from $35 to $90, plus facility fees, at the Huntington Center box office; Ticketmaster locations; or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Information: 419-321-5007.
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