As the acrobat slid down 20 feet to the floor, in pranced Daniel Buckland, Cirque du Soleil's only South African performer, clad in a blue sparkly pair of pajamas and a long pointy hat. Buckland murmured some phrases in a made-up language, dancing across the stage and seducing the Johannesburg audience into the show's dreamlike world.
Wednesday's opening performance in Johannesburg was the Montreal-based company's first-ever performance in Africa.
A artist from the international entertainment group Cirque du Soleil perform during rehearsal in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. Cirque du Soleil will perform for the first time ever in South Africa with a cast of around 50 artists hailing from 20 different countries taking part.(AP Photo)
"Performing with Cirque is an absolute dream," said Buckland, who joined the company in January, and has since performed in France, Germany, Turkey and now his home country of South Africa.Cirque du Soleil, renowned for creating surreal atmospheres and showing captivating and awe-inspiring stunts, is reaching out to new audiences worldwide, said the company's spokesman Maxime Charbonneau. In the past year the show "Saltimbanco," has been performed in Budapest, Hungary and Croatia, all new countries for the company. After the success of the World Cup, the Cirque du Soleil organizers knew it was possible to bring the circus to South Africa too, Charbonneau said.
"Everywhere we go here, people say, wow, finally, this is cool," Charbonneau said.
After 19 shows in Istanbul, 94 crew members and artists boarded a plane for South Africa, some making their first trip to the continent, Charbonneau said. Cirque du Soleil chartered another plane to transport the artists' more than 2,500 costume pieces and 250 shoes, all handmade in Montreal.
"It was brilliant," Marianne Sutherland, a Johannesburg native, said after the show. "You always hear about all these shows and we've seem them in other countries, but it's fantastic to have them here."
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