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Cirque Du Soleil Begins Run of 6 Shows at Bank of Kentucky Center

Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, coming to the Bank of Kentucky for 6 performances Thursday-Sunday, has a theme of ‘rebirth’ -- the visual extravaganza opens with Icarus falling back to Earth (in Greek mythology, he has flown too near the Sun and his feather-and-wax wings have burned).
 
Instead of falling into the ocean and dying, he lands on an island inhabited by all manner of eye-poppingly costumed creatures and Icarus must learn to adapt, and learn to walk. The exotic inhabitants of this strange, music-filled demonstrate how to move from place to place without necessarily using his legs.
 
Don’t worry if you’re not following the theme. Cirque shows are about the dazzle, both acrobatic and theatrical, and have been for most of their 30 years, when the company, which has long since gone global, began with 20 street performers in 1984. 
 
So Icarus drops from above in a net, which creates the framework for the first routine. In no time, performers take to the air with the aerial hoop and aerial straps. On the ground, characters demonstrate how to hand-balance on canes and a limping angel is choreographed on crutches. 
 
Performers dart and intertwine on a specially-designed sliding surface, flinging and catching each other, creating the illusion of skating.
 
They even engage in Icarian games, which showcases foot juggling – and the acrobats who balance and are then catapulted into risky jumps. 
 
Design always plays a large role in Cirque spectacles. Extravagant staging includes evocative lighting, set pieces,elaborate make-up and hundreds of costume pieces. 
 
Every Cirque show has clowning and musical interludes. Here it’s world music: Hawaiian rituals, songs of 11th-century troubadours from the south of France, traditional Armenian melodies and gospel music.
 
Then it’s on to the finale, when, propelled by two Russian swings, acrobats are hurled high into the air, alighting on their partners’ crossed wrists or on a landing canvas – or fly from one moving swing to the other. 
 
If you’ve been wondering what the title means, "Varekai” (pronounced ver·ay·’kie) mean? It isn’t Greek, its Romany, and means “wherever” – which is certainly where the show takes Icarus.
 
Varekai, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18; 4 p.m. Oct. 18; 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Oct. 19. The Bank of Kentucky Center, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights. Tickets: $37-$102 adults, $30-$83 children. www.bankofkentuckycenter.com
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts