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Entomological Utopia

The insect-themed traveling Cirque du Soleil show, "Ovo," is a hyper-stylized presentation where the costumes are as spectacular as the top-shelf physical offerings and gravity-defying stunts.

Michele Chiappetta
January 1, 2017

Stunning flights of fancy, gorgeously elaborate costumes, feats of amazing acrobatics. Sounds like what we have all come to expect from a Cirque du Soleil show. Fans and newbies alike can make plans to see the latest show to come through Tulsa Jan. 25-29, with Cirque’s stunning production Ovo.

Ovo is a show happening in the bug’s world,” explains Ovo arena publicist, Nicolas Chabot. “It’s super colorful, and it’s about movement.” The show’s creator, Deborah Colker, was inspired by the many different ways that insects move, and how that movement is evocative of life and emotion. As a result, attendees of the show can expect to see dance, acrobatics and other innovative performances featuring performers dressed as ants, butterflies, crickets, spiders, scarabs and other bugs.

The performers come from all over the world, says Chabot. “In our team, we have people from 21 different countries.” That’s a lot of nationalities represented onstage, a hallmark of Cirque du Soleil’s entire repertoire and a nice opportunity to see what the world has to offer in terms of the best of the best in physical and vocal performances. “Cirque takes the best talent from all over the world,” says Chabot.

Like other recent Cirque arena shows, Ovo has an underlying story intended to captivate young and old alike.

In a bug village that is going about its normal business, a new insect arrives, bringing along a mysterious giant egg that has the villagers asking questions (the word “ovo” is Portuguese for “egg”). Things become even more complicated when the stranger falls in love with a local ladybug, to the villagers’ dismay and confusion.

Audiences can expect a mixture of humor, excitement and entertainment from the show, which is both heartfelt and stirring. “Ovo is a very funny show,” Chabot says, “with an easy storyline to follow. The setting is a peaceful insect colony until a stranger shows up and needs to prove himself. It’s like a romantic comedy.”

Plan to bring the whole family to Ovo, because the story is perfect for everyone, including children. And it has a great message for children to learn. “What is nice with Ovo and makes it a family show 
is the storyline,” Chabot explains. “When you have someone different come into the community. It’s about the differences [and how we deal with them]. The theme behind the show is really powerful.”

‍Like other recent Cirque arena shows, Ovo has an underlying story intended to captivate young and old alike.

Of course, any Cirque show features fantastically talented acrobats, and Ovo is no different.

“Acrobatically, the show is very, very strong,” says Chabot. Among the acts you can expect are fabulous, enticing displays of complex and daring trapeze work, aerial ballet depicting a cocoon releasing a butterfly, ants’ feet juggling slices of kiwi, tumbling, climbing and more. The finale of the show features 10 acrobats dressed as crickets that perform an incredible trampoline act. The inspiration for this act is found, as is everything else associated with Ovo, in the world of insects.

“When they [the creators] were studying the bugs’ world, they discovered how high crickets can jump,” says Chabot. “This act mimics that.” And so does the rest of the show, making it not just inventive and fun but even a chance to expose children to the wide and exciting world of insects.

Created as a full circus-tent performance in 2009, Ovo had a (no surprise) successful tour worldwide until the show went on hiatus in 2015. During that break, the show was revamped into an arena show, allowing it to be performed in locations such as the BOK Center. Chabot says the work to create an arena version of this beautiful performance of acrobatics and music took six months, totally worth it for those who attend the show.

“The theme of the show is the same,” says Chabot, “but the show has been revised to make sure it looks good in an arena.” That includes using projected imagery to add to the set’s appeal, similar to what attendees of Cirque’s performance of Toruk in 2016 have seen. In fact, says Chabot, some of the team members who worked on Toruk are on the Ovo team.

Naturally, a traveling show isn’t easy. 

“It’s a lot of work to load in, load out every week. The technical team has to adapt to each arena, which can be challenging. Traveling is a challenge,” says Chabot, “because we go to a different town each week.” The production includes 19 trucks full of equipment and staff, and 100 people on the team, including not just the performers but also technicians, catering crew and others.

Ovo’s arena tour premiered in Louisiana in April 2016, and has visited between 20 and 30 cities so far.

Cirque du Soleil's Ovo
BOK Center | Tulsa
Jan. 25: 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27: 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: 4 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29: 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m.