'Quidam' takes darker path toward the expected stupefying acts of Cirque Du Soleil show
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11-12, 1 and 5 p.m. Jan. 13
Where: World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd.
Tickets: $30.50-$98; 477-2116 or ticketswest.com
Tanya Burka really did run away with the circus. The circus known as Cirque Du Soleil.
You’ll find her dangling from an aluminum arch as she performs contortion and acrobatics in long pieces of silk fabric in “Quidam,” which sets up in the World Arena Wednesday-Jan. 13.
The 5-foot, 10-inch Burka was a high school gymnast, but by her own account too “enormous” to go any further. She stumbled into trapeze and contortionist classes at 18, where a teacher told her she had the talent to perform professionally. Three years in Montreal’s national circus school led her to six years as a professional circus artist. She’s been with the Cirque show for a little more than a year.
“It’s the fabric act that launched a thousand ships,” says the 31-year-old. “It’s super iconic in the industry and in Cirque. There are a lot of people who do it now because they saw it in ‘Quidam’ over the last 15 years.”
“Quidam” is one of 11 Cirque shows currently on tour. Stage manager Gabriel Dube-Dupuis saw it when he was 18 and fell in love with the story and its ability to evoke emotion in its viewers. He’s been with it for two years.
“You walk away and you want to change a few things in your life through making a difference,” he says.
In the show, a young girl named Zoe is disconnected from her family. Her parents don’t reach out to her, and she’s listless and disinterested in life. In order to find herself, she falls into an imaginary world filled with characters who help her come of age. The show is a menagerie of the jaw-dropping and colorful acts one expects from a Cirque show, like suspended hoop ballet, amazing feats of human strength, skilled jump-ropers and the favorite of Dube-Dupuis - the award-winning finale of human pyramids where performers are catapulted through the air and must land precisely or take a tumble.
The word quidam (kee-dam) is Latin for nameless passerby.
“When you look at a crowd of people in the street, they’re all quidams,” says Dube-Dupuis. “But with time, you get to know each of them and they’re no longer quidams. It relates to our lives. We go through life walking through crowds of people, and then we start to meet people, shake their hands and open up to the world and make contact.”
Burka calls her character an “avatar for the mother in the show.” With her six-minute performance in the sky, she imagines herself speaking to all the mothers in the audience and connecting to similar emotions they might have. The word “anguish” is used in a review to describe her movement up and down the silk.
“She’s disconnected from her family and the world at large, and it’s a chance for her to express what she’s keeping locked up inside - the frustrations of being a parent and the person who she lost before the experience (of being a parent).”
“(The show) is a little darker than the other shows. It’s more like contemporary theater than traditional circus,” she says. “You can take it as a series of incredible acts or if you’re looking for a deeper meaning, you can find that as well.”