The combination of aerialists soaring high above the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, performing choreography set to classical music, was irresistible. These daring artists, along with extraordinary acrobats, contortionists, dancers and jugglers, joined the ISO in a family-friendly Printing Partners Pops Series concert, “Cirque de la Symphonie,” Friday at Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.
Conducted by master showman Jack Everly, the orchestra’s program included such popular works as Aram Khachaturian’s “Gayane” and “Masquerade Suite,” Camille Saint- Saëns’ “Danse macabre” and the “Bacchanale” from “Samson and Delilah,” and Georges Bizet’s “Danse Bohéme” and “Les Toréadors.”
Also featured were Stephen Sonheim’s “Comedy Tonight” from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and John Williams’ “Across the Stars” from “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” among others.
Performing the exquisite, breathtaking feats were Alexander Streltsov, aerialist and cube spinner; Aloysia Gavre, aerialist; Christine Van Loo, aerialist; Vladimir Tsarkov, juggler; Elena Tsarkova, gymnast; Irina Burdetsky, hoop performer; and strongmen Jarek and Darek.
Performing on the stage and sometimes directly above the orchestra, the agile cast of “Cirque de la Symphonie” dazzled the audience and often drew gasps as they soared, balanced and contorted, to the delight of all.
Following the orchestra, which opened the concert with Overture to “Colas Breugnon” by Dmitri Kabalevsky, aerialist Van Loo used silks tied to a hook and attached to an anchored cable to raise and lower herself above the stage. Moving like a ballet dancer, she used the silks to tie her in place as she created a variety of positions and formed graceful shapes in sync with “Gayane.”
Another aerialist, Gavre, made an impact as she performed to “Bacchanale” with a hoop, also tied to the same cable used by many of her fellow performers. Gavre caused some heart-stopping moments as she hung from the hoop using one hand, as well as bent knees, arms and feet, while suspended high above the stage.
Saving the best for last, the concert concluded with two stunning acts that best illustrated the discipline, focus and creativity required for the cirque performers to execute their complicated and difficult movement and make it look effortless.
Also manipulating the static silks to hoist himself high above the stage, aerialist Streltsov used the fabric to create wings as he performed to “Across the Stars.” Looking like a bird and later a butterfly, Streltsov glided majestically above the orchestra and a bit beyond the stage lip, in a breathtaking display of agility and incomparable beauty.
The most dramatic performance of the evening was that of strongmen Jarek and Darek at the end of the concert. Displaying uncanny power, strength and control, the two uber-muscular men, covered head to toe in gold makeup, used their hands, feet and heads to balance themselves on the most unlikely parts of each other’s torsos. Performing to Richard Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra” and “The Pines of Rome,” “Pines Near a Catacomb” and “The Pines of the Appian Way,” by Ottorino Respighi, the two appeared like two classic sculptures moving in slow motion.
For tickets and information regarding upcoming Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concerts, call the Hilbert Circle Theatre box office at (317) 639-4300 or visit www.IndianapolisSymphony.org.