The spotlight in the middle of the ring, glitter in the air and trapeze artists flying high. Most of us have had that childhood dream of running away and joining the circus, but for the most part, they have stayed just that – dreams. Now for the first time, the legendary Cirque du Soleil will bring its longest-running show to South African shores.

Cirque de Soleil has 22 different shows running across the world, most of them situated in Las Vegas as permanent shows. This unique circus has branched out to numerous countries as diverse as Turkey, Taiwan, and now South Africa. Not one of these shows are alike as each has its own speciality. Anything weird and wonderful makes up these other-worldly shows, from whimsical forest animals to those quintessential French clowns. It’s not only the over-the-top costumes that look like something from a Tim Burton movie, but also the make-up which takes it a step further to create a mystical feeling and transport you to another world.

This alluring world of swings and lights had its beginning in Canada in the 1980s in a small village by the name of Baie-Saint-Paul. Stilt-walkers and fire-breathers were among the entertainers of this little village. It was only in 1984 during the festivities of the 450th year after the discovery of Canada that Guy Liberté, one of these performers, suggested that the Cirque de Soleil performers go on tour to bring the joy of the performance to those outside the province of Quebec.

The show that is set to enthrall South African audiences is called Saltimbanco. The official Cirque du Soleil website describes the show as “an abundance of joyful and colourful acrobatics in a metropolis”. It is currently showing at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg until 20 March.

Drift away into a new and exotic world of tights and acrobatics. Maybe this is the closest most of us will ever come to our red and white striped tent dream, but for at least one night we can experience it.


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