I have been going to experience the unique world unleashed by Cirque du Soleil in their various shows around the world for over ten years and their ability to induce awe and wonder is, even after all this time, simply outstanding.
Going to see ‘Kooza’ at the Royal Albert Hall this last Friday, however, is the first time I have seen a CdS performance since I became a bit of an OCD like human movement geek. So although I have been fascinated by the skill and dedication that each of the performers exhibits every time I have seen a show, it was only this time that I began to truly appreciate just what the human body is capable of and, more importantly, what EVERY human body ‘could’ (not should (hate that word)) be able to accomplish.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that we all leap off the sofa and attempt a contortion (see the image above), those girls (and every other performer in the show) has been training since early childhood, it’s their full-time job and therefore they practice every day for several hours. What the performance does show, however, is just what we ‘could’ be capable of even if we had only a fraction of the strength, grace, fluidity and dedication to our movement that these performers show.
I suspect that many people watching such a performance view the performers with awe (perhaps mixed with a little envy) and never even contemplate that their bodies are capable of such movement. The simple truth is that we are all born with the potential for pain-free, fluid, graceful, full range movement, and even to the level that is evident in the show.
So if the potential is there, why do we lose it, assuming of course that you (and me) are not capable of creating the fantastic shapes in this picture? Why do we develop stiffness in our joints, or even pain? The answer to this question is of course like diving down the rabbit hole, that is, it has a very lengthy answer. A very simplistic and short answer, however, is lack of movement. We lose the ability to move well because we stop moving well. Children move beautifully, with fluid grace and superb posture. We then sit in school several hours a day, come home and sit watching TV or playing video games, we then sit in college or university or at a desk in an office. In other words we stop moving our bodies.
Why? Well, we simply don’t NEED (argh?!?) to move any more. The entire world is geared towards keeping us comfortable (and sedentary). Escalators, lifts, those things that move you along at the airport on a flat surface (can’t remember what they’re called), cars, ergonomic chairs, incredibly comfortable sofas and beds, pillows and, even more importantly, shoes – those horrendous items of culturally correct footwear – that stop your feet moving freely. Pretty much every invention created in this modern world is for our comfort, but what comfort has actually resulted in is NO MOVEMENT.
I am going to end this post before I start to write a thesis on the ‘no movement’ issue confronting the modern world as I wanted this brief article to celebrate the performers and the behind scenes directors of Cirque du Soleil. If you haven’t been and you get the chance, please take it. You will never be disappointed. Live music and singers accompany the most amazing feats of human movement potential you will ever see, all carried out with effortless ease and grace which belies the skill, strength, accuracy and nerve that lies behind every single movement made. For a self-confessed movement geek, watching these shows inspires me towards bettering my own movement every single time.