Bazzar, Cirque du Soleil's debut show in India, is a testament to what the human body is capable of
Cirque du Soleil's Bazzar is a visual spectacle which does not allow the viewer to look away or at their phone, for even a second
Two artists bounce up and down on a see-saw, performing somersaults in the air as they leap up. A man rides a bicycle while facing backward and hands-free, in perfect circles. A couple stands on an elevated platform in roller skates and dances such that the female artist is completely in the air, except for her head, anchored by the male artist.
These are three of the many acts that form a part of Canadian entertainment juggernaut Cirque du Soleil's first show in India, Bazzar. And what a fitting debut — the artists redefine what a circus performance can be, while displaying what the human body is physically capable of. As Bazzar has now reached Delhi after a string of shows in Mumbai, here's a look at what viewers can expect to see.
Before the performance could begin, the press was given a tour of the area where the artists prepare. There was a space designated for training and working out, and on display were a collection of wigs and an array of costumes in bright colours, embellished with sequins — and a whole lot of spandex.
Backstage at the Big Top (the tent where the performance is held) is a complete antithesis of the frenzy on stage; its run like a well-oiled machine. We interacted with two of the trapeze artists from the show, who spoke about the dangerous nature of their act and why there is no room for mistakes on stage. Their act involved one of the artists letting herself drop from a height, only to be caught by the other artist while upside down. You'd imagine that a conversation such as this would prepare the audience for what lies next, but it doesn't quite do so.
Easily the most impressive acts are the aforementioned roller skate one, where the couple uses centrifugal force such that the female artist is revolving in the air but securely connected to the male artist; the trapeze one; the one involving the see-saw; and the fire-blower.
As a part of the backstage walk-through, we were also given a glimpse of the see-saw act. The gymnasts would, sometimes three at a time, use force and weight to propel each other into the air, while performing somersaults. They would always land on the two ends of the see-saw. What is striking about this act — and consistent across the whole performance — is the effortlessness of the artists. They're always performing with a smile (or other expressions), which makes one wonder just how much practice has gone into each act. We were informed that Cirque often employs Olympians in its troupes, and this is not surprising, considering the sheer amount of energy and strength needed.
The characters of Bazzar are all well etched-out with distinct personalities of their own. The Maestro, with his eccentric way of talking and walking, jokes with the audience and acts as comic relief in the show. The 'floating woman', the trickster (played by an acrobat) who steals the Maestro's hat, drives the plot forward by introducing conflict into it. We went into the show expecting the plot to have a definite structure (the show is said to be about a troupe, thus being an homage to Cirque du Soleil itself), but this was missing. Still, the show is enjoyable because of the interactions between the Maestro and the floating woman.
What also drives the performance forward is the live music and vocals. The singer's deep voice and the musician's tunes on the electric guitar elevated the tempo of the acts.
The Indian element of Bazzar is the Mallakhamb act, which has been choreographed by the director Susan Gaudreau and noted Mallakhamb artist Rajesh Mudki. It's evident that Rajesh and his partner were on par with the rest of Cirque's players, and their act was a display of discipline and strength. However, because it is a more visually sombre act that the rest (no colourful costumes or aerial movements), the viewer may think that it pales in comparison to the rest of the acts. What is worth noting is the seamless way in which Mallakhamb was integrated into the larger performance.
Months ago, we were told that the scale of Bazzar is smaller as compared to Cirque's shows in other countries, but this doesn't seem to compromise the kind of experience offered. In the beginning, the viewer can feel almost overwhelmed because of the sheer number of things happening on stage. Over time, the viewer's eye gets used to the sound and action, and the result is a kind of performance that does not allow you to look away or at your phone, even for a second.
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