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Cirque everlasting.

Corteo

* Cirque du Soleil * Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca * Set design by Jean Rabasse * New York City, Chicago, Boston; other cities to be added

There were so many gay men in the audience that it could have been a Madonna concert. But no, it was simply Corteo, the latest show from Cirque du Soleil, premiering in New York City before starting a national tour this summer. As the lights dimmed beneath the sprawling tent and the transporting music began to play, I wondered what it was about this spectacular traveling circus that has garnered such a large gay flock, including me.

My infatuation with the circus died by the time I reached adolescence. The clowns seemed corny; the treatment of animals cruel. Even the muscled Romanian acrobats put me to sleep. So several years back when a former boyfriend bought tickets for what he called this "amazing" Canadian circus, I tried to weasel out of it. Boy, I'm glad I lost that fight. Not only was the show sexy and stylish, it featured some of the most breathtaking gymnastic feats I'd ever seen. It was so imaginative and (homo)erotic, it could have been, well, a Madonna concert.

Corteo is not as sexually charged as some Cirque du Soleils I've seen. But considering the theme--a lively funeral procession as imagined by a clown (corteo is Italian for "cortege")--it's appropriate. Naturally, the clown is not your typical Bozo. He's more like a big-hearted Italian barber who revels in wine, beauty, and song. The show opens with him in bed and angels circling above while a Felliniesque crowd dashes across the theater-in-the-round. Much giddy mayhem ensues as a gaggle of childlike acrobats high-hop between two oversize trampoline four-poster beds. At one point a buff male performer landed downstage, his face mere feet from mine in the front row, and winked, banishing all previous memories of Barnum and Bailey for good.

Of course, there's the usual inspired Cirque du Soleil gyrating, juggling, and midair contorting. But my unexpected favorite in the show was the clowness Valentyna Pahlevanya, a saucy acrobat resembling a diminutive Ginger Rogers who literally skips along the audience's heads while holding onto a large helium balloon, proving that new gay divas arrive in all shapes and sizes, including 2 feet 5 inches.--David Bahr
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Author:Bahr, David
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Jun 20, 2006
Words:385
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