The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 10, 2010

Visual feast of agility | Le Grande Cirque will tumble into Pasquerilla arts center

BY RUTH RICE

RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

A local arts center will host an international display of acrobatic agility.

Le Grande Cirque will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

Seen by millions around the world, the show has been described as fast-paced, heart-pounding and jaw-dropping, defying gravity and belief.

“We have five different versions of the show that have been touring around the world,” said Simon Painter, associate producer. “This show has been going on for three years.

“We have performers from China, Russia and Mongolia. Many are Asian because the acrobatic training schools are there.”

Painter traveled to China, where he auditioned world champion Chinese acrobats.

He watched more than 200 performers before selecting the ones who would be considered for the show.

Cirque is the French term for circus, but it is nothing like the American-style carnival that most people are used to seeing.

Most cirques do not follow the traditional three-ring circus format.

Instead, they have a more classically inspired, diverse artistic inspiration, Painter said.

Rooted in the timeless circus traditions of Russia, China and eastern Europe, Le Grande Cirque is an international company of handpicked champion acrobats, gymnasts and other performers who will create a visual feast of precision group acrobatics and stunts.

“It’s nothing like a circus,” Painter said. “These are things you’ve never seen in your life.

“It’s more theatrical with the costumes and music.”

Music for the show has been selected from the world’s most popular classical composers and arranged with up-to-date rhythms.

In Le Grande Cirque’s version of “Swan Lake,” a ballerina stands on pointe on another performer’s head.

The show also will feature gymnasts, dancers and a manic mime who will lead the audience on a journey through death-defying stunts.

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