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Cirque du Soleil returned to Hartford on April 10. Additional performances are available to attend through May 5.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

Acrobats and artistry. Balance and beauty. Power and precision. A bit of comedy, a beautiful chanteuse and some fire. Cirque du Soleil has brought its latest traveling performance, “Bazzar,” to Hartford.

It’s been nearly six years since the blue-and-white-striped tents went up on Market Street – the last time Cirque brought its troupe of talented performers to the spot was 2018 – but a capacity crowd of families, elders, couples and fans made it clear the audience was hungry for the return of the “Circus of the Sun” on April 10, the night Reminder Publishing attended the sold-out performance.

And it was worth the wait. The intimate theater-in-the-round brought the action up close, dazzling the audience with feats of skill and colorful pageantry. Think “America’s Got Talent” right in front of your eyes.
There’s always a storyline to any Cirque performance – with “Bazzar” it’s the destruction and restoration of the Maestro’s magical, performance-directing hat – but the comedic bits that bookend the 100-minute show are just a teaser for the spectacle that unfolds.

Written and directed by Susan Gaudreau, “Bazzar” marks a return to Cirque’s original street performer roots, with several acts like precision Indian dumbbell juggling and extreme hula hoop dancing paying homage to the circuses of old. There was even a little break dancing.

But as with every production in the troupe’s 43-show history, with Cirque it’s always a performance with a twist. Making the most of the small stage, performers like the teeterboard acrobats spun and spiraled to amazing heights in their tightly controlled flips and the bicycle dancer brought balance and skill to a new level as he traveled the circumference of the small space. Overhead, the strap artist demonstrated strength and grace through his slow-paced routine, and the pair on the trapeze mesmerized with moves that showed power, skill and an amazing level of trust between performers. The large hoop artist flowed through her act — grace, beauty, balance and poise in one seemingly simple interlude. The performer who used just his strength and bodyweight to showcase seemingly impossible poses and holds on a single pole was truly awe-inspiring.

Clad in their brightly-hued costumes, it’s easy to view these men and women as just performers, but in reality, each is truly a highly skilled athlete at the top of his or her game.

And then there was the fire juggler. Spinning and tossing first one, then two flaming batons as he moved around the small stage, the artist showcased a skillset both precise and powerful. Sitting just two rows back from the stage, the heat emanating from the flames was a reminder of how perfect his moves needed to be. And they were. The act was flawless.

I was also impressed by the three female contortionists who performed strength tableaus in the second act. Showcasing skills usually reserved for male performers, the trio demonstrated muscle control, balance and flexibility in beautiful poses that, as the parent of a former competitive gymnast, I knew took hours and hours of practice and focus.

As always, the finale of “Bazzar” was a feast for the eyes, with an aerialist seemingly suspended by her hair presiding over a stage filled with dancers, bodyweight juggling and hoop dancing in a constant swirl of color, music and movement. It’s always hard to know where to look as a Cirque performance ends, but that’s part of the magic of the show.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge both the talented chanteuse who provided accompaniments for so many of the acts, and the handful of musicians who performed both backstage and at times, with the troupe during musical numbers. The combination saxophone and guitar artist who accompanied both the Maestro and the dancers in several instances showed incredible musical talent.

Cirque du Soleil “Bazzar” will be in residence at Market Street in Hartford through May 5. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4:30 p.m., There will be 12 p.m. performances on Saturday, April 20 and 27. Family ticket price packages, which must include one adult and one child ticket, for up to eight tickets, are available. Special 25% off pricing is available for the purchase of a pair of “Friends Night Out” tickets. Kids’ ticket offer from $25 with the purchase of an adult ticket. For ticket pricing, which starts at $53 for select seats weekdays, and $60 on weekends, visit tinyurl.com/9xu5684 for credit card purchases. You can also purchase tickets with cash or a debit card at the show box office, located at 302-408 Market St., Hartford.

dgardner@thereminder.com | + posts