Bear with me, this is yoyo related.
If you have never heard of Cirque De Soleil, give this a read (link). It’s an organization based out of Montreal, Canada that started with two of your stereotypical “starving artist” performers and has grown into the largest theatrical producer in the world. They are currently running nineteen different shows in two hundered and seventy one countries around the world. Click one of the pictures below to go to the website for Kurios which will give you at least a superficial idea of what the costumes, characters and sets look like.
So other than being a really cool show concept, why did I choose to spend my money there rather than on more yoyos? A few weeks ago I was contacted by Chih-min Tuan, a Taiwanese yoyo performer. Chih-min has competed multiple times at the world yoyo contest in the AP division with some really amazing acts, including one that placed him 2nd in 2013. It turns out he is currently touring with Kurios! That’s right, there is a yoyoer in a major touring performance around the world. The character was originally created for 2001 world yoyo champion,Tomonari Ishiguro, also known by his stage name “Black” (check out his Ted Talk). Here is an interview with Black about his motivations for the performance (link).When he left the show Chih-min was contacted by Cirque Du Soleil asking him to send in an application video to join the show! As you can imagine his video was amazing and he was recriuted to join the show. Chih-Min recreated the performance to fit his own style fitting right in with the rest of the theme.
Here is a link to a Vancouver Sun interview featuring Chih-Min showing off his tricks!
The show itself was a collection of delightfully humorous and mind-boggling acts of physical prowess on par with Olympic athletes.
The description on the show’s website:
“Step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Suddenly, the visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed, and the world is literally turned upside down.”
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The act that left my jaw (and my wife’s) on the floor was a balancing act. Sounds like just another circus performance, but this performer was inhuman. First up he balanced on the equivalent of a Rola Bola (image). Then he balanced on it while on a swinging platform. Once he was warmed up with that (go ahead, I dare you to try it) he added layers. A second cylinder, another platform, so now the structure was rolling in two directions while he was balancing atop it. That wasn’t even the grand finale! But I’ll leave that surprise for you to enjoy when you go see the show.
Of course the highlight of the show for me was seeing the yoyo performance!
The character as described on the Cirque Du Soleil website:
“The master of time spins his yo-yos (transformed into pocket watches) in all directions, speeding up and slowing down time at will. He deftly wields the small objects at lightning speed, even twirling two yo-yos at once as if they were the spinning hands of a clock”
Chih-min delivered a fantastic example of exactly what a yoyo performance for a non-contest audience should be. A mix of tribute to the past (rock the baby, walk the dog) with some modern play (360 Eli hops, some speed combos and more). What worked best about it was that he chose tricks that to us yoyoers are realatively simple, but done at speed are amazing to an audience, yet easy enough to follow that they aren’t just a blur. Where he excelled was in his timing. It was a fast paced song with rapid tempo changes.
The venue sold collectable “Kurios” yoyos (basic wooden yoyos) and I’m sure quite a few sold after the performance. I bought one at intermission, you’ve got to have a souvenir! It threw surprisingly well!
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Here is a video of the first Kurios yoyo act by Tomonari "Black" Ishiguro
After the show we waited patiently as the venue emptied at which point we got the rock star backstage pass treatment! Security gave us badges and Chih-min took us back stage. We started by getting a photo taken with him so he could run off and change out of the costume so it could be cleaned before the next day’s performance. After that it was a tour of the amazing work of organization and choreography that was Kurios.
If you can’t get out to see Cirque Du Soleil, look into what else is happening locally. There are some amazing local artistic performances in any city that need your support. Don’t forget to bring a yoyo or two, you never know when you might make a new friend!