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by Lenise Willis

Anyone who has seen a Cirque du Soleil performance knows how visually captivating and all-consuming it is. The artistic clowns are hilarious, the singers are bold, the scarf dancers are elegant, and the contortionists make your bones hurt. Now Cirque is enhancing its power over its audience with the addition of a live orchestra.

Cirque de la Symphonie pairs groups of Cirque acrobats, jugglers and other performers with a local orchestra, adding a new dimension to the troupe’s list of shows.

“Live music, especially symphonic music, makes all the difference,” said Greensboro Symphony’s Dmitry Sitkovetsky, who’ll be conducting the production when it comes to Greensboro. “It makes you feel the vibrations, rhythms, emotions, joys, sorrows, fears and excitement of life.

Recorded music is like wallpaper””just a simulation of the real thing.”

The production includes a wide selection of musical pieces, including ballet music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, opera music from De Fallas’ El Amor Brucho, and even a piece from the movie Peter Pan.

“I am sure it’ll take the audience’s breath away not only because of the fabulous gymnasts,” he said.

Sitkovetsky added that there’s also a lot of dance-like music, like that of Sabre Dance.

“It’s challenging because there are many different styles involved, lots of virtuoso, fast-moving music for the orchestra,” he said. “On top of all of that we have to do it in the right tempo with the gymnasts; we have to be in sync with them.”

A COUPLE OF CIRQUES

Traveling the globe is an exciting way to expand your horizons, but not having roots can also make having a personal life””especially a love life””difficult. Unless you’re married to your work, that is.

Alina Sergeeva, a Russian hoops and silks specialist, and Vladimir Tsarkov Jr., a Russian juggler and illusionist, are a successful story of circus love. The married partners are both Cirque performers and are traveling with Cirque de la Symphonie together.

“The whole thing is very fun and interesting since we get to travel to new places, going to different cities, states, even countries,” said Sergeeva. “The traveling sometimes gets a bit tiring with some of the long flights that we have to do, though it is a wonderful experience traveling with Cirque De La Symphonie. The trips are always fun, shows are always sold out, the audience is amazing, and the cast and crew are the best. And my favorite part of it all is I get to travel with my husband.”

The couple has quite a bit in common, including how they got into the entertainment business””from childhood.

Sergeeva, a third-generation entertainer, started performing as a hand-balancer at the young age of three. A few years later she began playing with her friends and competing to see who could perform the best trick. “My parents pitched the idea to take all of the tricks I learned and put it into an act,” she said. “I got very excited because I would have my own act, and well until now I am still hula-hooping.”

Tsarkov Jr.’s family is also in the performing business, and his parents actually perform alongside him in Cirque de la Symphonie. His mother is a contortionist and his father is the famous “Red Harlequin” juggler.

“He taught me juggling ever since I was little,” Tsarkov, Jr. said. ” I pretty much grew up in the circus, and I have been performing and juggling professionally for about nine years.”

Both Sergeeva and Tsarkov said the music paired with the production truly enhances both their performance and the experience for the audience.

“It just makes the whole performance feel magical in a sense,” Sergeeva said about working with a live orchestra. “It makes it more real, and you have the feeling of putting everything you have into the performance. The music helps the routine flow, and I think it is a lot more fun.”

“It is an incredible feeling,” Tsarkov Jr. added. “That nervous feeling is quickly replaced by joy and excitement when I get on stage because I realize that a live symphony orchestra is playing right beside me.”

You can see both Sergeeva and Tsarkov, along with the Greensboro Symphony when the circus comes to town in just a few weeks. !

WANNA go?

Cirque de la Symphonie performs at the Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Lee St., Greensboro, April 11-14. Tickets are $34-$46. For tickets and more information visit greensborosymphony.org.

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