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Hoop Diving
Adagio Quatuor
Cyr Wheel &
Fútbol Freestyle
Pole Dance
360° Swing
Aerial Straps
Russian Swings
Fiesta Finale

Artistic Bicycle
Hair Hanging





Aerial Straps

An artist representing a demigod of rain emerges from the pristine waters of a cenote recalling the naturally occurring sinkholes the Mayan believed were gateways to the afterlife. He performs a graceful aerial straps act, his hair whipping the surface of the water as he rotates on the straps in a circle just above the water. The artist interacts with a puppet resembling a life-size jaguar, an animal that has become a mythological figure of Mexican culture. The artist manages to gain the big cat’s trust in this tableau brimming with lyricism.

In Mexico, rain has been a topic of conversation since pre-Hispanic times. Not only is it present in popular culture today, but it was also important to the Mayans who named two gods in its honor. Rain-calling rituals are legion in Mexican lore. One of these rituals is the Yuctec Ch'a' Cháak ceremony in which four boys representing the four cardinal points croak like frogs in a spirited appeal to Cháak, the Mayan god of rain. In the Aztec religion, Tlaloc was the supreme god of the rains. Rainmaking rituals were also performed in the Yucatán cenotes, naturally occurring sinkholes or cisterns the Mayan believes were sacred gateways to the afterlife.

A cenote is formed by the dissolution of rock and the resulting subsurface limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Cenotes may be fully collapsed creating an open water pool, or partially collapsed with some portion of a rock overhanging above the water. The stereotypical cenotes often resemble small circular ponds, measuring some tens of meters in diameter with sheer drops at the edges. While the best-known cenotes are large open water pools measuring tens of meters in diameter, such as those at Chichén Itzá in Mexico, the greatest number are smaller sheltered sites – like the cenote of LUZIA, where Benjamin Courtenay, representing the demigod of rain, descends into the pristine waters where he performs a graceful and powerful aerial straps act, skimming the surface as he whooshes by.

He is accompanied by Bahlam the Jaguar. Jaguar gods are prominent in Mayan and pre-Hispanic mythology, from the Jaguar God of Terrestrial Fire and War to the countless demigods, protectors and transformers. In Mesoamerica, the Olmec developed a were-jaguar (half man, half jaguar) motif of sculptures and figurines showing stylized jaguars or humans with jaguar characteristics. The Maya saw the powerful felines as their companions in the spiritual world, and a number of Mayan rulers bore names that incorporated Bahlam, the Mayan word for jaguar.

This is another of my most favorite acts from the show. The mise-en- scene here is fantastic in its simplicity. The stage itself becomes the cenote, with its central apex a pool of water. Hanging from the catwalk above is about a dozen ropes, depicting vines, and, of course, the rain to complete the image. Within is a young man testing his strength as he bares his soul (and muscular arms and chest) to the gods above. Although fans of Cirque du Soleil have witnessed a number of aerial straps routines, I promise you you’ve not seen anything like this in Cirque – Benjamin takes the discipline to new heights in strength and stamina through rapid twists, pikes, presses, spins, hooks, turns, and drops that find him folded up one second, and dangling by his shoulder the next, and then back again before you can blink, over and over and over again.


• "Tlaloc"

Cirque Corner