A Family Wired For Thrills .
Jeremy Daniel/Richard Termine
The 'Wheel of Death' sequence during Cirque du Soleil's 'Zarkana.'
JULY 21, 2011.
By JOANNE KAUFMAN
Roberto Navas Yovany makes some people very nervous. This makes him very happy.
An eighth-generation member of a celebrated circus family, Mr. Navas Yovany, with his sons Rudy, Ray and Rony Navas Velez, is part of a headlining high-wire act in the new Cirque du Soleil show "Zarkana," which opened late last month at Radio City Music Hall.
The quartet joyously cavorts some 26 feet above the enormous stage, jumping rope, jumping over one another—in one memorable maneuver, 20-year-old Rony leaps over two family members—balancing on a chair, running to and fro, all on a cable that's more than 32 feet long and less than an inch wide.
"When we finish a trick and the people like it, they say 'this is fantastic,'" said Mr. Navas Yovany, 52. "But I will sometimes hear people in the front row say 'Stop! Stop! No more!' because they are afraid for us," he added, beaming. "But I am not frightened."
So very far from it. "Roberto will say, 'We could do this other trick. We could add another wire,'" said Ann-Marie Corbeil, the show's artistic director. "Sometimes it's exhausting. He has a million ideas."
"Zarkana," which is grandly described as an acrobatic rock opera—the description is one-third accurate—and includes visuals like rolling eyeballs, writhing snakes and an enormous spider web, centers on Zark (oh, please, turn off the Zark), a red-caped magician who's trying to locate his lost love and his lost powers. "Acrobats and clowns," he exhorts early in the proceedings, "wake up, dance and fly."