I was told once that the purpose of art is to remind us that we are human. (I know too many who have forgotten that fact.) Art comes in many forms: writing, music, dance, painting, fashion, sports, comedy … on and on …
We inherited two tickets to the Moscow Circus performance at the Cascade Theatre. My youngest daughter, 7-year-old Iliana, was absolutely delighted at the promise of going to a circus! I, on the other-hand, felt compelled to go simply by the look on my daughter’s beautiful, beaming face when she heard that magic word: CIRCUS.
Iliana’s excitement didn’t stop after we received our tickets at 4 p.m., Friday, the night of the show. She wanted to get all dressed up with a little make-up, a pretty bow in her hair and a quick trip to a local fast-food joint (yeeeuck!) before the show. I proudly escorted my daughter to a – surprisingly to me – absolutely packed house!
Thinking back on some the circus experiences of my youth (keeping in mind our recent fast-food stop, that somehow equates to me with some stereotypical, transient circuses), it didn’t make sense to me at all to see so many at a “circus event” … at first.
Then, the show. Beginning to end, every single offering from the Moscow Circus on our little, local stage was completely artistic and gifted.
From the stunning costumes to the power trio of musicians of the richest and highest craft. From the many gasps and frequent applause one could tell the art and the love from these talented Russians was palpable.
The incredible Russian gymnasts, contortionists, jugglers, dancers and spell-binders clearly loved every movement or opportunity to genuinely emote for the capacity crowd. Iliana and I felt like these highly disciplined and captivating performers – artists all – were performing for just us two.
The mind-bending acts were frequently punctuated with a hilarious comedy duo (Vladimir and Irina Plugatar) who never spoke a word, yet left the audience laughing and probably talking for days about their skillful mime and timing. I almost feel guilty to call them clowns, yet this gifted team also payed tribute to American music by playing a side-splitting rendition of Harry Warren and Mack Gordon’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” on banjo, harmonica and kazoo!
The exquisite contortionist, Elena Zavyalova, exhibited form, balance and athleticism unlike anything you have ever seen. Iliana said, “Dad? How can she touch the back of her head to her butt?!”
As an underscore to the difficulty of some of the acts, an occasional ‘restart’ happened. As I looked back at the crowd I could see people with enthusiastic expressions and clenched fists seeming to send their energy stage-ward, as if to help the artist.
And speaking of kids … they had a very cool dog act, too! His name is Kirya, and his trainer, Andre Loshkin, has an impressive background “…in different genres such as acrobatics, gymnastics, equilibrist arts and juggling …”
It was really fun to hear all the kids in the crowd oooh and ahhh over this dynamic team.
I have to admit that I was pretty darn skeptical to think about the juxtapositional idea of watching a circus … in a theater!
Some on the West Coast know me as a guy with a film, video or photographic camera duct-taped to the side of my head just about everywhere I go. (It’s a gift and it’s a curse.) I attempted to gain permission to take some shots and to quickly interview some of the performers or producers for the great viewers of this site. I was most politely refused that access by the kind and apologetic Cascade staff as well as a representative of the circus. Perhaps if I were to have considered the full weight of this show I would have been more respectful of contacting the Cascade and the Moscow Circus with a more professional lead-time in mind (Where’s my good-old-fashioned press pass when I needed it?!)
It’s so difficult to find words to explain to you this amazing achievement of bringing such creative direction, production mastery, talented artists and technical people to realize a CIRCUS in a THEATER. It just blows my mind to think about that!
Words can’t express the gratitude I feel for Jefferson Public Radio, the Cascade Theatre, their sponsors and to the producer, Sasha Vosk, the director, Lena Vosk, as well as the exceptionally talented artists and technical support of the Moscow Circus. My daughter and I were left weightless and spell bound. Two hours whisked by as though only minutes. If you ever have the opportunity to catch this show, don’t wait until the very last minute to inherit a couple tickets. Run, don’t walk to the box office and invest in a show that will thoroughly please anyone from 5 to 105!
The Moscow Circus world tour is over. In addition to a stop in Redding at the Cascade Theatre, it also appeared February 27 in Chico at the Laxon Auditorium and February 28 in Yountville at the Lincoln Theater.
Moscow Circus web site:
Cool YouTube video:
Slideshow by photographer Paul Heath.
All other photos and YouTube video courtesy of the Moscow Circus.
Alan Ernesto Phillips is a proud son of Shasta County. He is a parenting educator, chemical-dependency counselor, victim-awareness counselor and developmental-asset builder/trainer. He has been a musician for more than 40 years and has played with Jeff Lorber, Albert Collins and Slam Buckra. Alan is a Clio and Telly award-winning filmmaker who produced and directed political campaigns for congressmen, senators, governors and one president (Ronald Reagan). His clients also included Coca-Cola, NIKE, CBS News, SINTF, OTS/CHP and NOVA and BBC documentaries. He is a former board member and public affairs officer for the Northern California Hispanic Latino Coalition.