The final South Florida performance of Cirque Eloize iD was a visual feast. The technical direction and set design of the show are flawless. As for the story, I’m not sure I followed it. In fact, I’m not sure there is one. The show begins with a love scene that involves some very nice floor based gymnastics and lifts along with an act on a Chinese Pole and some break dance fighting. After that the plot is not really present and seems to be a jumbled mess of incongruent story lines. The only way that I picked up on this being like West Side Story is that it says so in the promo: West Side Story Meets Hip Hop. I definitely got the hip hop vibe. Although it added to the story, they used break dancing for filler every chance they got, sometimes needlessly. I personally think that their “fights” would be much more dynamic if they incorporated more capoeira techniques instead of trying to make break dancing look like fighting.
Story aside it was a beautiful show. The acts included traditional Cirque performances – aerial lyra, strength acts mixed with choreography, balancing acts, juggling, a contortionist, Cyr wheel and aerial silks. Newer performances were incorporated like jump rope, rollerblading, powerskips and BMX stunts (including audience participation). The one act that really seemed to impress the audience was the trampo-wall act, which involved the entire troupe. This act worked seamlessly with the stage decor, which incorporated trap doors, moving platforms, and digital imagery across it’s various surfaces as each performer did tricks and stunts up the many surfaces of the wall. Throughout the show I could pick up that the performers were tired – and rightfully so, they’ve been performing a rigorous schedule over the last month plus here in South Florida.
Coming from more of a backstage and technical background, the set design is what really impressed me. At any given time nearly every face of the stage design had digital imagery on it. This was accomplished through 9 projectors that must have overlapped with seamless edge-blending or overlapping projection and some major keystoning. The effect allowed for scenes to change while keeping the projection from being fully eclipsed by a performer’s body or other set piece. This is quite an accomplishment as the performers were up against the projection surface for much of the show.
Miami was the last leg of the US tour schedule, but if you have a chance to Cirque Eloise iD, I would take it. The visual experience of the technology behind the show along with the cirque acts is worth it. They even encourage audience participation through live lobby and house video along with constantly updated twitter and text feeds projected on stage.
Imagine a structure 164 feet tall, that uses 120 trucks to move and several days to assemble. Now imagine that same structure surrounded by 50,000 to 300,000 people per tour stop; pretty impressive, right?
June 29th U2 landed their space ship like stage in Sun Life Stadium. This monster stage – the largest touring stage ever built – looks like a giant claw or a structure built by NASA. The stage has four legs that support a center column of LCD screens, speaker stacks, and even four aerial lighting platforms that 12 crew strap in to and get hoisted into positions within the legs. A giant spire looks as though it’s been thrust through the whole apparatus, and the stage has two concentric circles of performance platforms. There was a lot of buzz about both the stage and the tour when I went to LDI in 2009, but even with the advanced knowledge I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of this concert.
The idea of the stage, as the “360” tour name suggests, is a concert in the round. Instead of the traditional stage flanked by speaker stacks and fans only concentrated in one direction, the fans literally surround the stage. This stage did everything functionally and SFX wise that I was hoping for. Whenever I’d say “it would be cool if…” all of sudden that very thing would happen – smoke, LCD screens moving, elevator systems for bringing equipment on stage, even the ramps that span from the inner circle to the outer circle moved! With 432 speakers distributed between eight speakers stacks the sound quality was excellent no matter where you sat. This was truly a feast for the eyes and a massage for the ear drums.
U2s songs reverberated through the stadium and the crowd was so in tune to it that you could feel it. Yes in the way you do at a normal concert where you feel the bass and the music, but there was more than that. As people were clapping, stomping, and jumping I could actually feel the vibrations through the steel of the prestressed concrete of the stadium. This was both really cool, and a little disconcerting all at the same time. My mind kept bouncing between enjoying the show and worrying about the stadiums mechanical resonance and how that affected the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Obviously the fans did not cause the stadium to shake itself apart, or you would be reading about somewhere else than my blog.
This was one impressive concert. We left the stadium visually stimulated, physically resonated, and all over tired. If you want to check the tour out, there are only 10 stops left of the 109 scheduled on the tour. So get your tickets or watch it online!
It’s graduation season at the Art Institutes again, and once again I was not disappointed at the showing in Miami. The graduating class at Miami International University of Art and Design seemed a little smaller this quarter compared to last, but the work was equally as good. Interior design was set up outside the hall and the extra space allowed for a little less congestion throughout portfolio review. Fashion Design, Accessory Design, and Fashion Merchandizing had a good showing with a wide variety of styles represented. Graphic Design showed sound composition and design aesthetics. Juan Lopez from the Graphics Department caught my eye with some interesting 3D work.
Visual Arts had only two graduates this quarter, but both were very strong. Alejandra Cicilia showed her diversity in photography. She had some fantastic photos of construction workers in front of the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, her fashion photography was well composed, and her nighttime photography has an amazing use of color. The work of Chantal Disler can be an event in itself. She takes watercolor, newsprint, and other mixed media and forms them into beautiful arrangements of harmony. Her branding seems to be set around birds in different forms and flight patterns. Her photography, drawings, and portraits all follow a free will aesthetic.
This quarter’s showing was very good. The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale had their portfolio review today at the Broward County Convention Center. Unfortunately I was unable to attend both, but wish graduates from both schools the best of luck!
Once again Labor Day weekend welcomed the Home Design and Remodeling Show to the Miami Beach Convention Center. The show is mainly aimed at homeowners and shows a wide array of spas, pools, outdoor living, and wall and floor treatments. Along with these permanent additions, items for the kitchen, cleaning tools, furniture, and window treatments are shown as well. This season’s show seemed smaller than in years past in both attendance and exhibitors, but still created learning opportunities through a lecture series that took place on a feature stage. The show occurs once every season and bounces between the Broward County and Miami Beach Convention Centers. For more information on the next show you can check out their site.