It’s a strange mix of excruciating and exquisite watching aerial artists contort into back breaking poses while suspended many metres above you. Add the splendour of a 70 piece live orchestra and the plush environs of a concert hall and the effect was a circus experience of majestic proportions. 

A sell-out crowd packed the Perth Concert Hall to witness the world-wide phenomenon of Cirque de la Symphonie collaborating with the WA Symphony Orchestra. Irina Burdetsky spun hoops from her toes, knees and hair to the thrilling Spanish sounds of Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance. Vladimir Tsarkov’s mime and juggling tricks provided comic relief. Elena Tsarkov swapped frocks at impossible speeds, danced slow contortions on top of bar stools and delivered a high-kicking ribbon dance to Offenbach’s famous Can-Can.

Irina Burdetsky

Even the most devout WASO supporter would have to admit the orchestra receded into the shadows behind the jaw-dropping circus stunts. In fact it’s a tribute to the players’ immense discipline that they weren’t completely distracted! Guy Nobleconducted several orchestral interludes with spirit (showy excerpts from Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and Dvorak’s Carnival Overture) but to be honest the playing was often untidy and the orchestral settings seemed locked on loud and fast.

Soaring to John Williams Flight to Neverland
The most engaging dialogue between the music and the cirque artists occurred in the aerial acrobatics. In the aerial silks dance Christine Van Loo rose and fell according to the contour of Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre, demonstrating impressive muscularity, flexibility and daring as she hung suspended by a foot or elbow. Vitalii Buza used aerial straps to literally fly over the audience in John Williams’ Flight to Neverland. The Valse from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake was bewitching as two swans (Alexander Streltsov and Chirstine Van Loo) dived, twirled and courted while suspended from red silks.

Dancing swans in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

The highlight was Sibelius’ Finlandia where the ponderous grandeur of the brass playing was matched by the magnificent gold-painted strongmen Jarek and Darek. As the serene Finlandia hymn filled the hall one of the men executed a handstand on the other’s head slowly twisting and turning with incredible balance and strength, made even more breath-taking by Sibelius’ haunting music.

Strongmen Darek and Jarek

This review copyright The West Australian 2016.