How many of you New Yorkers have ever been to Randall Island? How many of you even know about Randall Island, at the northeastern tip of Manhattan? Or which bus to take? I am so fucking on top of things now, so in the know, now that I’ve been out there to see Cirque du Soleil. The new show was kind of an Italian-flavored dream; it reminded me of Fellini’s “8 1/2.” That’s the kind of piercing insight I have now that I’ve been through Columbia University. I can deconstruct circus narratives.
But yeah. Short European tumblers jumping around on brass beds. Girls twirling around on enormous spinning chandeliers. A flying bicycle. Even a pair of little people acrobats, which made me wonder. Being an acrobat is specialized enough. But a pair of little people acrobats? How does one find a job? Do they just scan the want ads endlessly until one day, “Oh my God, Agnes! Cirque du Soleil!”
We had crappy seats, at the very edge of house right. But this made for an interesting perspective. During the trapeze act the rest of the audience was focused on the lithe girls flung about, while I watched the flingers, especially one shirtless, muscular little guy, most likely from some obscure European country, who stood on a platform at the center pole, between the two side poles, and who acted as the flinging middleman. He had a casual, practiced air about him, particularly between bouts of flinging, where he’d lean back against the platform and nod his head to music he’d probably heard a thousand times. These casual moments were brief, a second or two, and then he’d straighten up, grab some chalk from a little bag, smack it against his thick forearms, rock back and forth on his feet, centering himself, reach down just at the moment where the next girl was flung to his waiting arms, and fling her forward. Then he’d lean back against the platform again, his chest gleaming with sweat and golden in the circus lights.