Cirque Ingenieux

The impulse to art up the circus is an old one. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey tried it in the early 40s, when they enlisted the services of a gaggle of certified New York City highbrows, including Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine, creating a show that was despised by kids of all ages. But only in the last decade, with the rise of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, have impresarios figured out how to turn centuries-old circus acts–tumblers and contortionists, trapeze artists and clowns–into a kind of performance art. Now, like our homegrown Midnight Circus, the folks at the New York-based Cirque Ingenieux have taken this process a step further, turning the circus into theater. Trimming and reformatting the show to fit a traditional proscenium stage, which helps focus attention, they’ve also added a thin story–about a young girl who runs away to join the circus–to give some structure to what would otherwise be just another dazzling, eventually mind-numbing array of dancers, jugglers, aerialists, clowns, and strong men. They’ve also given the show a European look and feel, an original New Age score by Kitaro, and simple spandex costumes–except for the clowns, whose surreal garb seems to have come straight out of Hieronymus Bosch. Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont, 312-902-1500. Opens Tuesday, February 10, 8 PM. Through February 15: Wednesday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. $19.50-$37.50.

–Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Carol Roseeg.