Ants and acrobats? Cirque du Soleil presents both at the North Charleston Coliseum this August

It's a bug's life

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The North Charleston Coliseum hosts a fusion of ants and acrobatics, beetles and balancing, and dragonflies and dancing with Cirque du Soleil’s OVO this August. Written and directed by Deborah Colker, OVO tells the story of an insect world rocked by the appearance of a mysterious egg — ovo, in Portuguese.

Running from August 9-13, the show features three main characters: Master Flipo, the leader of the insects; the Foreigner, who brings the egg into the insect home; and the Ladybug, the Foreigner’s love interest. The show tells its story through various acrobatic and dance acts featuring ensemble cast members as, you guessed it, insects.

Highlights include ants juggling food with their feet, scarabs performing trapeze artistry, butterflies swinging from a rope, and a spider unicycling on a slackwire. The show concludes with Wall, where over 20 performers run, jump, and climb a 26-foot vertical wall without harnesses or other supports.

In developing the show, Cirque du Soleil drew inspiration from the color and movement of the insect world.
No creepy crawlies here. - PROVIDED
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  • No creepy crawlies here.
“Most people think the bug world is only disgusting, creepy, and dark, but when you look at it from very close it’s actually very colorful,” says Cirque's publicist, Nicolas Chabot. “Our circus artists are all moving differently, so they decided to translate bugs into circus acts and circus acts into bugs.”

That translation inspired everything from acts to sets to costumes, Chabot says.

“For example, actual crickets are able to jump 30 times their height,” says Chabot. “They decided to create this trampoline tumbling act where our artists are actually crickets jumping everywhere.”

Gringo Cardia’s set mimics an organic space, and Liz Vandal’s costumes evoke the images of insects without directly copying their anatomy. Most performers have two costumes — a lightweight one for acrobatic performances, and a more detailed one for life in the community.

To create the show’s music, composer Berna Ceppas blended bossa nova and samba with funk and electro. Each show is accompanied by a live eight-piece band. Colker and Ceppas are both Brazillian, and Chabot said that played a major role in developing the music.
Buggin' out. - PROVIDED
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  • Buggin' out.
“They wanted to make sure the show would have this Brazilian feel,” he says. “The whole show to me is very uplifting, and dynamic, and a cheerful show. You really feel it in the music.”

In Charleston, the Foreigner will be played by Swiss Jan Dutler, Master Flipo by Austrian Gerald Regitschnig, and the Ladybug by American performer Michelle Matlock. The show boasts a cast and crew of 100 people from 20 different countries.

OVO first toured under a Grand Chapiteau, or big top, from 2009 to 2015. In preparation for the tour on stage, the show paused for six months to work on set design, mainly adding video projection and a new back wall. They also reworked the storyline and created two new acts, which could not be performed under a tent but can be performed stage.

“We now have this Russian cradle act, which is kind of a human trapeze,” says Chabot. “We have three platforms up in the air, with porters on each of these platforms, and they throw flyers from one platform to another. These flyers – while they’re thrown, they do saltos and flips in the air.”

In collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, the Charleston Museum is running a special exhibit on the life cycle of the butterfly during August. The museum also hosts a single act performance on August 10. In addition, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is offering a limited-edition ladybug cocoa and cream cookie and a ticket discount code starting July 9.

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