11/7 Peering through Cirque du Soleil’s “Iris”

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When I was around 18 years old, flipping through cable channels, I happened across a weird and wonderful Canadian Euro-style circus that completely mesmerized and captivated my young, theatre-nerd, budding-artist heart. I found out everything I could about them, lamented their distance from Chicago, devoured the soundtracks that were available, and recorded the rare cable broadcast on my VCR so I could watch them over and over. I even collaboratively developed a performance piece in my freshman year of theatre school, scored by a live recreation of the taiko drum sequence from Mystère – performers pounding the floor with their palms to the beat. I came thisclose to taking up circus arts classes so I could one day perhaps audition. I was hooked.

Since then I’ve seen every Cirque show I’m given the opportunity to attend when they came to Chicago on tour, or on the periodic trip to Vegas in recent years. So When I heard that Kodak Theatre here in Hollywood was converting into a permanent home for the new Cirque du Soleil show, I got a rush of excitement similar to the one that took me back to my youthful discovery of their troupe.

Having the opportunity to take the LA-area members of Team Broke-Ass and a couple other colleagues to a special press event during the opening week of Iris made me soooo incredibly happy. A few of them had never been to a Cirque show before, and getting to watch them experience Cirque’s specific brand of art, acrobatics and awe for the first time was pretty spectacular. The show’s name refers to the Iris of a camera, a Cirque-ian interpretation of the magic of hollywood films. From their site:

This new production from Cirque du Soleil is a lyrical, fanciful, kinetic foray into the seventh art. Bringing together dance, acrobatics, live video, filmed sequences and animation, the show takes spectators on a fantastic voyage through the history of cinema and its genres, taking them into the heart of the movie-making process. From illustration to animation, black and white to colour, silent films to talkies, fixed shots to swooping camera movements, spectators witness the poetic construction/deconstruction of this art as an object and as a way of transcending reality.

And transcend reality it does. The show is a feast for the eyes and ears. With another spot-on soundtrack from beloved Hollywood composer-all-of-all-things-fanciful, Danny Elfman, a romantic storyline between the two leads, and a cast of acrobats, clowns, contortionists, aerial performers, balancing acts, and more… there is no shortage of gravity-defying thrills and artistic intrigue throughout.

I asked my crew to share a little about their experience of the show, and here’s what they had to say:

“Iris was my first Cirque experience, and I was absolutely blown away by it.  Every element of the show was a feast for the eyes.  My favorite part about the show as a whole was its elegant blend of comedy and circus arts. The entertainers had me laughing one moment, and the next moment a band of contortionist were putting me in a state of jaw-dropping awe.  From start to finish, Iris was a joy to experience.  A must-see, especially for film lovers.”  –  Britt

“Iris was incredible! The show itself is housed in the famed Kodak theater. This was my first Cirque du Soleil experience and it blew my mind. It was addictive. There were too many incredible acts to pick just one favorite, but the gymnasts called the “Icarians” had me on the edge of my seat. It was truly an amazing show and an incredible treat to see.” – Caitlin

“No surprise, my favorite part was the relationship between the two leads. I loved how that story line threaded throughout the whole production.  It was so dreamlike, too, with the flying, and the acrobatics. Almost beyond the possibilities of physics, but real. Like, love, actually.” – Liz

“While an all around tremendous and moving experience (I do not know why I was crying in the first act. I blame it on allergies. Get off my back!) the Danny Elfman soundtrack became the primary focus for me. As a soundtrack composer myself, I know the difficulties inherent in matching complicated emotional scenes with appropriate musical movement. This is, often, nightmarish, even when matching your work to the finalized editing of a film. To do the same for a living, breathing, evolving live performance while conveying the same level of control is nothing less than a masterwork, and perhaps the most impressive thing Elfman has every accomplished. Having re-worked material over the course of several years, adapting it to the variations in group personnel and artistic direction, then finding a way for a mix of live orchestration and backing tracks to give the cast breathing room for more complicated, nuanced stunts… just awe-inspiring. And simultaneously displaying the kind of range Elfman is rarely afforded to explore. It’s everything that tugged at your heartstrings in “Big Fish” mixed with the twisted phantasmagoria of his “Batman” soundtracks, used to explore the entire history of film. It’s the secret weapon that makes this show better than any other Cirque I’ve seen. And I’ve seen 90% of them.

I look forward to a second viewing of the show, or more importantly, as it becomes a regular and well-known Los Angeles fixture, the eventually that I become annoyed by it. When it becomes that experience like walking Hollywood Blvd or the back-lot tour at Universal Studios or eating at Musso & Franks; enjoyable but still a requirement each time a family member comes to visit, to give the complete Los Angeles tourist experience. This will become a welcome addition to that list, as I’m sure even on my tenth time in attendance, I’ll still be finding something new to appreciate, especially within the dense layers of Elfman’s masterwork.” – Brock Wilbur

With its romantic themes, breathtaking stunts, and a location right in the beating heart of Hollywood, a trip to see Iris would make a fabulous anniversary outing, or uniquely entertaining bachelor/ette evening on the town. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Have you seen a Cirque show yet? Which is your favorite one?

The Broke-Ass Bride
Dana is the head woman in charge here, the original Broke-Ass Bride. Learn more about her here. And, follow her on Twitter (@brokeassbride), Pinterest (@brokeassbride), Facebook (/thebrokeassbride) and Instagram (@brokeassbride). Affiliate links, which might be included in the post above, help make her a few dollars here and there to keep her off the streets and in the business of blogging for your ass. So thanks for coming! :)