A Festivus for the Rest of Us
Review | ‘Muse’ by Cirque FLIP Fabrique
Though billed as part of UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Young at Heart series, last week’s Cirque FLIP Fabrique show Muse at the Granada had as much, if not more, to offer the adults in the room as it did the kids. Challenging our preconceptions of gender roles with incredible feats of strength by notably powerful women, as well as by men in feminine garb, made for a dazzling and thought-provoking Cirque show.
After entering the stage in neutral, skin-tone-colored garb and acting out a scene that pointed to the story of Adam and Eve and the apple, the talented cast then hilariously chose between football uniforms and ballet tutus, with neither attire quite fitting the bill for most of the performers. A refreshing view of the contemporary circus, in addition to the themes exploring femininity and strength, the performance had a modern dance vibe, with a variety of acrobatics, ropes, silks, and diabolo routines performed with flexed feet and fabulous extensions.
Brazilian singer Flávia Nascimento was an energetic standout, with her sparkly personality and rainbow glitter costume making her even more alluring. I was also very charmed by the jump rope artistry of Kata Banhegyi, a world and European jump-rope champion who is originally from Hungary.
The show pokes gentle fun at society’s gender norms, with a soundtrack of quotes from Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou, and others threaded in the score. The feats of strength continue throughout but are on particularly impressive display toward the end, as a group of men and women compete and try to outdo each other in gravity-defying tricks of muscular balancing. Eventually the duel ends in a draw, as they join forces and learn to appreciate each other’s strengths.
All in all, it was a powerful Cirque show combining artistry and athleticism with simple but big ideas. Straightforward Cirque shows are enjoyable on their own, but add in some strong thematic messaging and they elevate to another level. In this case, the message was that we can be anything we want to be, a perfectly resonating capper to an evening full of fun and fodder for audiences of any age.
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