International Steampunk Circus Visits Atlanta


Imagine this…An invisible circus. Human raindrops plunk and twirl off a trampoline. A scientist ascends into the foggy sky with a lightbulb hat. Costumes are equal parts fantastical and bizarre. 

Cirque du Soleil is in town as one of the most impressive, creatively original, and awe-inducing performances you could ever see. Live electro-swing music weaves through all the acts, led by a character singing in French. Distinct and colorful characters and groups make up the talented international cast.

Many of the acts were gravity-defying in nature, such as a girl riding a bike upside down while flying through the air. In another act, a trapeze swing was transformed into a small teal and gold airplane, which the Aviator seemed to pilot it around the air. One particularly mind-boggling act started as a dinner party between several of the characters. Then the magician manipulated the chandelier to rise very high above the table. One man began to stack chairs in an effort to reach the chandelier. Meanwhile, an identical dinner party took place upside down on the ceiling. The man’s twin stacked chairs to reach the chandelier as well. The men climbed towards each other, racing to obtain the chandelier. The most surreal act featured a man and his horse, formed by two of a character’s hands. The man and his horse played through several costumes and scenes, each of which was filmed and projected onto the face of a hot air balloon. One of the smaller acts was of an invisible circus in which only the ringmaster was real. The small acts were simulated using the spotlight, trick curtains, and sound effects like creaky stairs and a lion’s roar. These acts were astonishing and pushed the limits of live performance.

The costumes are imaginative and play on both steampunk and nature. One pair was two robot assistants to The Seeker, the scientist. They have helmets similar to old diving suits, and different tool arms between them. Large and clunky, they vacuumed and provided entertainment as the audience waited for showtime. Another pair was Mr. Microcosmos and Mini Lili. Mr. Microcosmos has a large metal belly in which a small room is set up for Mini Lili, who represents his unconscious mind. The tech crew wears costumes as well, integrated with their safety equipment. Gold shoulder straps, knee pads, and steampunk goggles rest on top of their black base outfits. Before the show started, a suspension bridge spanned the stage and two immense, globular towers topped by platforms and filled with inventions rose out of the stage. The towers were part of the laboratory of the eccentric scientist/inventor. A group of contortionists dressed as a sea coral came on stage resting on a gargantuan metal model of a human hand. The front of a large coal-gray steam engine rolled onstage for a different act. The stage was an arena setup, ringed by columns for holding a large trampoline in the raindrop act.  The costumes, the set, and the music all enhanced the beauty and novelty of the astounding acts.

Cirque du Soleil began in the early 80s, started by street performers Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberte in a small town in Canada. Since then, it has become an award-winning world-touring production. “Kurios” will be in Atlanta until December, so get your tickets now if you are interested.