For the fourth time in 15 years, I went to see Cirque du Soleil on Thursday, and by the end I was wondering if these were the best athletes ever to perform at Memorial Coliseum. Think about all the great competitors who have showcased their skills in that building over the last 60 years, the hockey players, NBA players, Olympic athletes and pro athletes from various sports, and I believe the Cirque du Soleil performers could be the most gifted.
They are incredibly disciplined, flexible, fit and daring. There were probably 10 times during the act when I said “Oh, no!” before they attempted a stunt because these certainly looked death-defying. I'll never think of a watching someone use a hula hoop, climbing ropes, a swing, a jump rope or tumbling through a gymnastics routine the same again because the things they did were mind-boggling. I sat there thinking, “Yeah, comic-book heroes could actually physically exist if these people can do these things.”
If you've never seen them before, Cirque du Soleil is a circus of human performance artists. Some use props, and some just use each other. There are gymnasts, dancers, acrobats, contortionists, I guess you'd say trapeze artists and such, but then push those out 50 times past what you have ever seen those type of performers do before.
They are mesmirizing. I've seen usually fidgety 5-year-olds sit quiety in awe for a three-hour performance. I felt like a 5-year-old myself Thursday night many times, watching people do incredible things while often supporting themselves, and a few times someone else, with one hand. The pure power and balance are extraordinary.
These athletes have Olympic-caliber fitness, and I wondered how many chiropractors and massage therapists they have traveling with them, not to mention how many chefs because it's obvious none of them have ever eaten a cheeseburger. If they gained an extra pound or two, they could put the health of many co-workers in jeopardy because of the timing, balance and strength necessary in each trick.
I'm also guessing they have very short careers, much like football players because of the constant injuries and travel. They are also doing these things on hardwood floors and not cushioned mats so their knees and backs must take a terrible pounding. I'm not sure how they could ever handle a family life and do this. I'll bet none of the performers I saw 15 years ago are still around, and everyone involved in this show looked to be under age 30.
They'd have to be young to have the courage to perform some of the stunts. They must have worked for possibly months and maybe even years to develop the trust with each other to be able to throw a person to the top of three men standing on each others shoulders and catch with such precision. Or to hang from a hula hoop 40 feet off the ground by the ftont of their feet or by the area between their chin and neck. Another performer swung back and forth 60 feet in the air by a rope wrapped around her ankle.
I've never developed or read a perfect definition of athlete, but I've come as close as I likely will to seeing athletic perfection. These are incredibly gifted and trained people, as good as Fort Wayne has ever seen.