Cirque du Soleil dazzles Liacouras Center crowd

A global phenomenon, Cirque du Soleil goes beyond the idea of a circus, incorportating elements that stimulate the senses in a mystifying show.

A global phenomenon, Cirque du Soleil goes beyond the idea of a circus, incorportating elements that stimulate the senses in a mystifying show.

Photo courtesy Cirque du Soleil Contortionists perform for the crowd in Cirque du Soleil’s Alegría. The show ran four nights at the Liacouras Center.

As the sound of the bongos resonated off the arches that tower over the seats below, green and purple lights revealed a stage littered with trampolines and performers tumbling in every direction.

Cirque du Soleil captivated its audience last Tuesday with the performers’ opening night at the Liacouras Center. The show, titled Alegría, the Spanish word for joy, strayed from a traditional circus, offering its audience a different experience. Aside from dazzling stimuli for the senses, Alegría is rooted in themes of progressive states of mind and the gains of overcoming power.

According to the Cirque du Soleil Web site, since debuting in 1994, Alegría has visited more than 65 cities on five continents. The show’s cast is comprised of performers representing 17 different countries.

The performers demonstrated teamwork and talent in all aspects of the show, from precise gymnastics to passionate vocals. Perhaps the most enthralling part of the performance happened when fire dancers leapt from each others’ shoulders, passing flaming torches between one another. Other worthwhile moments included flying trapeze artists and contortionists bending their bodies in the most inconceivable ways.

The show’s own traveling orchestra, which sits in the shadows in the back of the stage, accompanies the visual aspects of the show.

“It was so original and colorful. I thought the balance beam gymnasts were incredible,” said Amy Duffey, a Manayunk resident and first-time attendee. “They did back flips what seemed like 10 feet in the air only to bounce flawlessly over to another beam.”

The dynamic performances made Cirque du Soleil engaging to a diverse audience, including families, college students and others.

“Having Cirque du Soleil here has really opened up the possibility for more family events,” Paige Gilbert, a sophomore sports management major and Liacouras Center employee, said. “I saw such a variety of people walk through those doors. It is definitely helping us as we try to expand and cater to different people.”

The show traditionally visits South Philadelphia, but this year, the company’s decision to move to the Liacouras Center brought increased awareness of the Temple community.

Paul Donovan, a New Jersey resident, brought his wife and his grandchildren out to see the show.

“The young ones just loved it, all the colorful costumes and jumps,” Donovan said, as his grandchildren ran up and down the building’s steps following the show. “[My wife] Patty and I have been coming for years, and we’ve always loved seeing it in South Philly, but the Liacouras Center seemed to house it well.”

As the crowd left the auditorium, the ladder that carried the trapeze artists up to the ceiling remained hanging down to the now quiet stage. It felt like the singer, glittering all in white, flowing across the stage, could still be heard repeating, “Alegría! Alegría!”

Brogan King can be reached at


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