Innovative international performance group brings OVO to McKenzie Arena
Next week Cirque du Soliel is coming to UTC’s McKenzie Arena, bringing with it a show that is guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. The “Circus of the Sun” is the biggest circus organization on earth, with over 4000 employees from 40 countries coming together to create 19 different productions. The shows all combine elements of theater with acrobatics, making distinctive experiences that are visually stunning and exhilarating.
The production that they are bringing to Chattanooga is called OVO—telling the story of a group of insects, the circus employs a wide variety of international acrobatic and dance styles. These one-of-a-kind acts include hand balancing, foot juggling, the Spanish web, a flying act, contortions, acrosports, the slack wire, and an innovative trampoline/climbing wall.
“This is our first time coming to Chattanooga,” the show’s production manager, Mike Naumann, tells us. “We are bringing a lot of new technology. If you’ve never seen it before, this is a great first show to see—it’s colorful, very energetic, and you will leave feeling inspired.”
Though Mike has been working with the cirque for eight years, this is the first time that OVO can be seen in an arena setting—the show has been going since 2012, but it was only performed previously in a big top circus tent. The arena setting allows for more of everything—the group of 55 performers and 25 touring technicians travels with 19 semi-trucks full of equipment. For the show they will hang over 100 motors, 115 moving lights, and six projectors. This herculean effort takes 80 people over 12 hours, with over 100,000lbs of equipment being installed.
“It’s always great to go to a new place, to see people’s enthusiasm; it’s great to expose people to the show who have never seen it,” Naumann explains. “It definitely has a wow factor; there are things that you see in the show that are amazing. I kind of take them for granted, but it still wows me whenever I watch the show—it’s amazing what they can accomplish with the human body.”
The performers possess a wide range of skills, and everybody has a different background. They are specialty artists, each with their own acts. Such is the case with Missouri’s James Johnson, one of the acrobats who specializes in trampoline (in this production, he plays the role of a cricket). He started working at a gym when he was 15, competed for four years, then started doing part time shows. He got involved with the cirque by sending in videos of his trampoline act—they called him in to audition, and he has been performing with them since 2014.
During their down time, the performers rehearse their individual acts a few days a week, work out, and learn new skills. “For competition, you have to have the best possible form—but for this, you’re not judged by form, but by what you’re doing,” Johnson says. “This allows us a little bit more creativity, but since you do a part of the show with somebody else you have to be consistent.” Since they travel a lot, one of their favorite things to do is check out local hot spots.
“The show has lots of color, action, and comedy—it is a well-rounded performance,” Johnson adds. “I enjoy watching people get lost in the whole world of it. They forget that they’re sitting there watching a show, and end up feeling like a part of it. They laugh, and maybe even get scared or excited—there are lots of emotions associated with the stunts. This is a show for the whole family: kids five and up will enjoy it as much as their grandparents. It’s just a fun show, you’re going to be guaranteed to have a good time, you’re not going to be let down. It’s a really good time, everybody I’ve ever heard of has enjoyed it—it is good for the whole family, or for a date night.”
This incredible assembly of highly talented athletes will be doing seven shows at UTC's McKenzie Arena from Wednesday, July 20 through Sunday, July 24. Tickets are available online or at the box office.