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Series Intro


Wind of Romance
Twin Winds
Howling Winds
Rockin Wind
Once Upon a Wind
Wind of Freedom
Ghostly Wind
Gone with
the Winds

Past Winds
Wind of

Wind of Life
Wind of Courage
Cosmic Wind



"Winds of Courage"

Episode 05: "Winds of Courage" (CBC, Canada)
Episode 12: "The Games" (Bravo, USA)

Patrick, a professional armchair athlete, is settling down for a loooong evening watching television in his basement apartment. Suddenly, his television set bursts into flames. As he is putting out the small fire, his arm gets stuck in the set. Then, gradually, his whole body gets sucked into the television! He now finds himself in another world, where high-level sporting events are taking place. When the Gentle Giant from the production "O" blows solar wind on the site, the sporting events and the customary decorum alter course radically: the course of solar wind! Comedians Colin Mochrie and Yvan Ponton, Olympic athletes Sylvie Fréchette (synchronized swimming), Sébastien Lareau (tennis) and Émilie Heymans (diving), as well as the former professional tennis player Sébastien LeBlanc, will have never experienced anything like it!

First Aired: December 28, 2003 (CBC)
June 27, 2004 (Bravo)

    Cirque du Soleil Artists

    • The Other Life of The Gentle Giant from O -- Just as water is essential to all life forms, the show "O" symbolizes the cycle of life. In this odyssey where everything takes place in or above water, the Gentle Giant can be seen as the guardian of each emerging world-strong man, a organ grinder, a guileless giant, he is ever willing to be helpful. The Gentle Giant is played by Didier Antoine.

    • Human Torch from O --This artist holds the (unratified) world record for staying on fire for the longest time: two minutes. Performed by Ray Wold.

    • Fire from O -- Dance and fire manipulation in the traditional Polynesian style. Performed by Fua'an "Junior" Faitau and Steven Silulu.

    • Hand-to-Hand from Mystere -- Acrobatic act combining still poses and feats of elevation and balance, performed by two or more artists. Performed by Jarowlaw “Yarek” Marciniak and Dariusz "Darek" Wronski.

    • Floor Hoops from Alegria -- This young artist manipulates a ribbon while performing contortions with hoops. Performed by Maria Silaeva.

    • Water Meteors from Varekai -- Trio of child performers manipulate a long rope with small bowls at each end, traditionally filled with water. Performed by Bin He, Siguang Li and Junping Yan.

    • Juggling from Varekai -- This talented performer juggles balls, ping-pong balls and panama hats. Performed by Octavio Alegria.

    • Tightrope from La Nouba -- Performed by Igor Arefiev Sr.

    Guest Artists

    • Acrobatics/Leaps -- Les 7 Doigts de la Main, Performed by Patrick Léonard
    • Aerial Straps -- Performed by Roman Tomanov
    • Chinese Poles -- Performed by Paul Herzfeld, Darin Inkster and Sébastien Tardif
    • Comedy Trampoline -- Atrium Arts Pty. Ltd., Performed by Matt Hugues, the rebound acrobat
    • Kung fu Clowns -- Krasky Vostoka. Performed by Azimov Choukhratbek, Dmitrii Khamzin, Abdoullaev Khamdam, Abdoullaev Mourat and Ulugbek Raimdjanov
    • Spanish Web -- Performed by Marina Bouglione

    "Winds of Courage" features the largest number of acts in a Solstrom episode yet (a total of 13). Unfortunately that doesn't mean more bang for your buck, it just means more of what we don't want and less of what we do. Thematically the episode is an incoherent mess and the production values are so cheap they are constantly distracting. I simply can't enjoy the show because it looks so amateurish and silly. The costumes are beyond drab and I've seen more impressive sets for bad high school plays. For the non-Cirque acts there is no choreography to speak of and the filming is flat and uninspired. The one semi-creative aspect for this episode is the music composed by Phillipe Leduc, Mathieu Vanisse and Jean-Charles Desjardins. It is a mostly-electronic score that alternates between esoteric and video- gameish. While not spectacular it's just not as bad as the other elements of the show. For once I agreed with Fogus Punch when he said "This is degenerating into a cartoon." Though I doubt the line was intended to be self-referential.

    The episode features the spasmodic Patrick Léonard from the Cirque spin-off troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main as an arm-chair sports fanatic who gets sucked through his television set into a comic book version of the Olympics presided over by the Gentle Giant from "O" (Didier Antoine). It would seem natural that Cirque would want to pay tribute to the Olympics and to sports in general but this episode is more of a mockery. Speaking of "Mochries" fans of Canadian improv comedian Colin Mochrie of Whose Line is it Anyway will be disappointed to learn that his much touted "cameo" translates into a mere 15 seconds of screen time where he wasn't allowed to do anything but mumble gibberish at the camera as a sportscaster. What a waste of talent! Another oversight; Montreal has an authentic Olympic Stadium, The Big 'O', a relic of the 1976 Games. It would have been so easy to film the episode on location to gain a sense of authenticity instead of using a budget set in a TV studio, which underlines the episode's artifice.

    "Winds of Courage" starts off encouragingly enough with strong performances by Polynesian Fire Knife dancers Fua'an Faitau and Steven Silulu and Human Torch Ray Wold (all from "O"). A blink-and-you-miss- it Spanish Web performance by Marina Bouglione (only one or two skills) is followed by La Nouba's Igor Arefiev Sr. who performs a tightrope routine on a tennis net to a Mission Impossible-style score.

    This act, along with the remainder of the acts adapted from the live Cirque shows, are so horribly misplaced, abridged and altered they are effectively ruined. Juggling by Varekai's Octavio Alegria just isn't as exciting or impressive without the energy of an audience. Why would they change an act as powerful as Mystère's Hand to Hand (a new routine performed by Jarowlaw "Yarek" Marciniak and Dariusz "Darek" Wronski) with its evocative staging and haunting score and reduce it to a ridiculous wrestling match? Varekai's Water Meteors (Bin He, Siguang Li, Junping Yan) and Alegía's Manipulation (Maria Silaeva) acts are cut down to a fraction of their full length (Maria doesn't even get to perform the ribbon portion of her rhythmic gymnastic act) and placed in the hokey context of a medals ceremony. My advice to Solstrom's production team; if you're going to take acts from Cirque's live shows, don't alter them! You'll never improve on what was originally created and you're devaluing them by putting them into these contrived story lines.

    Of the non-Cirque acts featured the highlight of this episode is a remarkable aerial straps performance by 16-year-old Roman Tomanov. Already a highly skilled gymnast and aerialist, his performance evoked images of the aerial routines performed by Anton Chelnokov, Alexandr Dobrynin and the Atherton Twins, all of whom this young performer can give a run for their money. While already technically impressive, Roman's act has the potential to be sublime if properly costumed, choreographed and scored by Cirque for a live show.

    The remainder of the acts are of the slapstick physical comedy variety of which there is entirely too much in this episode. Pat Léonard performs part of his "stair dance" on a large foam pillow, the act is so much more amusing in the context of 7 Doigts where it opens the show and sets the spontaneous and irreverent tone for the live performance. In Solstrom it just comes off as childish. Matt Hugues, "the rebound acrobat" from Circus Oz, invades a diving competition to perform his juvenile "comedy trampoline" act. And Azimov Choukhratbek, Dmitrii Khamzin, Abdoullaev Khamdam, Abdoullaev Mourat and Ulugbek Raimdjanova, a group known as Kung Fu Clowns perform an asinine mock martial arts display.

    Not soon enough, the episode concludes when three Chinese Pole Acrobats (Paul Herzfeld, Darin Inkster, Sébastien Tardif) scamper up the poles and become human flags.

    Text written by Wayne Leung, as published in the “Fascination! Newsletter”.

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