Get ready for a contorted, circus-like performance by the Fox Valley Symphony

March 1, 2011

Author:  
Kara Patterson

Source:  
Post Crescent

Feats of artistry both seen and heard are the features of “Cirque de la Symphonie,” a concert in which cirque performers showcase their flair to the orchestral accompaniment of the Fox Valley Symphony.

Cirque de la Symphonie, an Atlanta-based artistic company, is partnering with the symphony to stage the concert at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton. Concerts take place at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The marriage of cirque acts with symphonic music, a relatively new trend in concert halls, provides audiences with a multisensory experience, said Alexander Streltsov, an aerial artist and Russian native also based in Atlanta who wears many hats as the cirque company’s president, technical director and artistic coordinator.

“It’s what we call a true fusion and collaboration between two ancient forms of entertainment, and both of them are very powerful on their own, but when you combine them together you create something very magical and very inspiring and something new to see and hear together,” Streltsov said.

Fox Valley Symphony music director Brian Groner, who worked with Cirque de la Symphonie staff to choose one of several available music programs, said the orchestra is positioning itself upstage from its typical concert spot.

“That gives room to hang the necessary equipment from the ceiling for the aerial acts,” Groner said. “I know there will be ring juggling, there’s a spinning cube on stage, there’s a contortionist act, there’s an aerial duo. The final act is the strongman act, a very, very powerful finale to the most famous symphony (no. 5) of Shostakovich.”

There won’t be any animals on stage as there are in circuses. However, a canine ambassador from the Fox Valley Humane Association — Wilma, a certified therapy dog — will be on hand with her handler in the PAC lobby on Saturday to help kick off the symphony’s new community nonprofit partnership and fundraising initiative, “Music for a Cause.”

Through “Music for a Cause” the symphony will choose a Fox Valley nonprofit with which to partner for each concert. The Fox Valley Humane Association is the program’s inaugural partner agency.

“By cross-promoting each other, suddenly we’ve raised awareness of each organization,” said Marta Weldon, the symphony’s executive director, who learned about the concept from the South Carolina Philharmonic.

Fox Valley Humane Association staff, volunteers, clients and other friends of the organization use a designated code the nonprofit has provided when they purchase tickets to Saturday’s concerts. The symphony tracks those tickets, Weldon said, and then will donate 75 percent of the face value of those tickets to the Fox Valley Humane Association.

Those funds will funnel into the Fox Valley Humane Association’s Kermit Fund, which helps finance surgeries for injured dogs at the shelter, said Kate Mueller, the Greenville-based Fox Valley Humane Association’s marketing coordinator.
“We do what we can for every pet and especially in winter, there are dogs that are injured from being left out in the cold,” Mueller said.

In another community-symphony partnership, several businesses have underwritten tickets so that about 50 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley can attend the matinee.

Although Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian artistic entertainment company, specializes in similar art forms, Cirque de la Symphonie is its own entity with its own character, Streltsov said.

“The level of performance is on the same level as Cirque du Soleil but it’s a different twist,” he said. “We’re performing with classical music so that factor makes us so much different from Cirque du Soleil.”

As part of the program, aerialist and acrobat Christine Van Loo plans to perform in an aerial ballet duo to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” and also in a solo Spanish web act.

“For me it’s the epitome because there’s nothing better than to perform to live music, and to have an entire orchestra beneath you is amazing,” said Van Loo, who lives in Los Angeles. “It’s just beautiful because you see amazing dynamic movement that just seems impossible, but then it’s choreographed to such beautiful music that it pulls at your heartstrings. It makes you want to cry.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Cirque de la Symphonie”

When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, downtown Appleton

Details: “Cirque de la Symphonie” showcases cirque performance acts set to the music of the Fox Valley Symphony.

Tickets: $19-$59 general admission; $10 for students with identification on Saturday; free for music teachers with identification

Box office: 920-730-3760

Related event: To give an example of cirque artistry, a free and public showing of “Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba” takes place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the Appleton Public Library, 225 N. Oneida St., downtown Appleton. Free refreshments also will be available. www.apl.org. For more information about the concert or the event, call the Fox Valley Symphony at 920-968-0300.

On the Web: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center at www.foxcitiespac.com, Fox Valley Symphony at www.foxvalleysymphony.com, Cirque de la Symphonie at www.cirquedelasymphonie.com

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