Of the many shows that Cirque du Soleil has brought to the Twin Cities over the past decade, including the dark "Dralion" and cute "Kooza," their latest offering is by far the most creative.
"Ovo," which opened Thursday in a giant striped tent across from the Mall of America, has acts that showcase feats of strength and daring -- acrobats on trampoline, trapeze and high wire who appear impervious to danger -- similar to ones we've seen before.
But the creative team behind this show has invested it with much more imagination and invention this time around. The trampoline act near the end has gymnastic acrobats bouncing high off walls. A performer might drop say, 30 feet, on his back, then bounce way up in the same position, each time taking steps on the rock-climbing wall. (The creators of Broadway's problem-plagued, budget-busting "Spider-man" could take a note from this segment, which is no doubt copyrighted, but which seems simple and communicates very effectively.)
Written, directed and choreographed by Deborah Colker, the first woman to helm a Cirque show, "Ovo" takes place in the world of insects that like to party. The show uses a thin concept. A foreigner arrives carrying a giant egg (ovo), which fascinates the insects. They crowd it and are shooed away.
There is also a love story of sort between the skinny, prickly foreigner and the very rotund ladybug. All the action takes place inside what looks like a termite mound.
The music, delivered by a live outfit, is an urbane blend that draws on the syncopation of calypso and samba.
What so fascinates me about the show is its sophistication. The production has an air of intelligence and wit about it, and an artistic élan. The aerialists who make up a butterfly duo, for example, deliver with strength and style. I was breathless not just because the woman hangs by an ankle while twirling 30 or so feet in the air. The team executed with panache.
Similar things could be said about the trio of bouncing fleas, the flying scarabs and those ants, six of them, that juggle corn, kiwi slices and each other with their strong, kicking feet.
Even the show's self-awareness is cute. In "Ovo," figures seem to pause for a pose at the top of an arc or a jump or a bounce, making so much of the production ripe for pictures (which are forbidden).
In addition to its inventiveness and sophistication, "Ovo" is distinguished by some new acts. For example, a spidery young man who rides a unicycle upside down on a rope. He made it look so easy on Thursday, I thought that that is something I might want to do before breakfast. After all, that's when I dream.