Eric E. Harrison
You’ve never seen anything like this on any local concert stage - six cirque artists doing amazing and even magical things with their bodies and a few props Friday night at Little Rock’s Robinson Center Music Hall.
Well, maybe if you paid the big bucks to see Cirque du Soleil at Alltel Arena, but even it didn’t have a full symphony orchestra backing it up - the Arkansas Symphony under the baton of new Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson in the opening concert of the orchestra’s Acxiom Pops Live! series.
It’s hard to say which act in “Cirque de la Symphonie” was the most astonishing:
White-clad contortionist Elena Tsarkova twisting herself into unimaginable shapes and performing gymnastics that would stun Olympic winner Nastia Liukin atop a pair of stools while the orchestra played the Waltz from Aram Khatchaturian’s Masquerade
Mime-juggler Vladimir Tsarkov (who also served as comic stagehand and quasi-emcee) tossing rings to Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 8 and lighted clubs to the “Sabre Dance” from Khatchaturian’s ballet Gayane
Aerialist Aloysia Gavre soaring on a sky-hung hoop to the orgiastic strains of the “Bacchanale” from Camille Saint-Saens’ opera Samson and Delilah
Aerial artist Alexander Streltsov soaring out on silk wings over the first few rows of the audience while the orchestra played the Waltz from Peter Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty
And, for the grand finale, “Duo Design,” strongmen Jaroslaw Marciniak and Dariusz Wronski, aka Jarek and Darek, doing the most incredible hand-balancing act - including the one poised straight up with just a single hand on his partner’s head, while the applause practically drowned out J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor.
Robson, in his first main-stage conducting assignment with the orchestra, maintained tight tempos both in accompaniment and in the orchestral interludes. Alas, there was no printed program, and nobody announced the titles from the stage.
Cirque artists and orchestra will again offer “Cirque de la Symphonie” at 8 p.m. today at Robinson, West Markham Street and Broadway, Little Rock. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 666-1761 or at the Web site, www.arkansassymphony.org