Originally published in The Pulse

Cirque du Soleil brings Corteo to Chattanooga

Cirque du Soleil is known for breaking the mold of the typical big top circus performance and taking it to new heights with more in-depth storylines and breathtaking acrobatics.

In the newly redesigned for arena atmosphere, Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo, goes back to its big top roots and pays homage to the life of a clown, all the while wowing audiences with seamless and spectacular displays of art and athleticism.

Corteo, meaning “cortege” or “solemn procession” in Italian, tells the tale of a clown who dreams of what his own funeral would resemble. Like an upbeat, honorable jazz funeral in Louisiana, this carnivale procession is led by an iconic image of a ringmaster donning a red jacket, top hat and whip. As many cultures celebrate the passing of a loved one, this seemingly dark subject is portrayed warmly on stage with colorful characters full of heartfelt farewells.

The show takes you through stages of life with the contemplative clown, Mauro, as he reflects on his past before accepting the curtain closing on his possible final performance. From childhood shenanigans displayed betwixt “Bouncing Beds” to lost loves in “Lustres”, the twists and turns that take place on and off the stage are visually and emotionally encapsulating.

An all-inclusive show, Corteo is relatable and nostalgic for kids of all ages. The defiance of gravity from both the teeterboard and tourik performances will have you clinging to your seat and holding your breath, only to simultaneously let out a sigh of awe and relief once the cast is safely on the ground.

Extravagant and dramatic yet simplistic and touching, Cirque says it best when they say they “invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world.”

For most Americans, we imagine Cirque du Soleil as the astonishing aerial acts permanently performing in Las Vegas. However, not limiting themselves to only being accessible in elaborate vacation spots, Cirque du Soleil executes three types of shows—Residential, Big Top and Arena.

The Las Vegas grandiose shows are the residential kind which are stationed in one spot, custom to the location and continue year after year. Big Top shows are smaller traveling shows, and Arena shows are a mix of both where it can accommodate a larger audience but still maintain a more intimate feel.

Corteo, originally created in 2005 as a Big Top show for Cirque du Soleil, was restructured to reach arena audiences and this is its first year on tour. In its fresh and exciting new phase, this “theatre-in-the-round” captures its audience’s attention with music, acrobatic ladders, swinging chandeliers, tumbling, juggling and much more.

As Corteo has been in motion for over a decade, the transformation from Big Top to Arena has allowed for some new developments within its well-rehearsed artistic realm. The hula hoops were previously a back-up act but are now a main attraction along with the suspended pole. Innovative and inspiring sets, the flamboyant and creative costumes, the mysterious and whimsical music—all so powerful in its synchronized performances.

Cirque du Soleil provided some fun facts about this cast of Corteo. The smallest shoe size is a kid’s 13 and the largest shoe size is a man’s 18EEE. The cast consists of 51 performers representing 17 nationalities. For a single year of operation, performers require over 200 bottles of liquid foundation as well as more than thirteen gallons of make-up remover. There are several angels in Corteo’s cast. The fabric for all of their costumes could stretch to fill five football fields. Needless to say, these angels are very flowy.

In 2018, Cirque will present 19 different shows around the world and we are honored to have it making an appearance in Chattanooga May 10th through the 13th. The ethereal experience of Corteo starts Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at the McKenzie Arena. There is also a Friday and Saturday night performance, both also starting at 7:30 p.m. For those wanting more of a matinee, perhaps a wonderful Mother’s Day gift, Corteo takes the stage on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Tickets start at $42 and, with the circular stage, there are no bad seats as Cirque’s set ups are always intended to include audience members from all angles. There are family packages, Mother’s Day offers and group discounts available online. To purchase tickets to any of the six performances, visit cirquedusoleil.com/corteo.