June 13th, 2016

One Night for “One Drop”

On Tuesday evening, June 7, we went to the cinema to see the digital broadcast of Cirque de Soliel’s charity benefit performance, “One Night for ‘One Drop’: Quest for Water”. This is an annual event in which Cirque de Soliel performers and production staff donate their time and skills to benefit the One Drop Foundation, which works to provide access to clean water in regions across the world.

Staged at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, the show began with an African-themed dance sequence, depicting life in a village in an arid region. The show’s viewpoint character, a young African boy (nine year old actor and dancer Miles Brown), goes to the nearby well to fetch water, but falls in, initiating a “down the rabbit hole” sequence of adventures in the underworld. These include a “water ballet” sequence, an “Inferno” sequence, and eleven others making up the hour and a half program.

Since the show is being performed on a standard indoor stage, much of the show is an extended dance review, although each scene includes aerial performers of some type. The background is a full-stage sized video projection, which adds fantastic ambiance to the acts. This could be a bit overwhelming at times, notably in the “Inferno” performance, where the red and black flaming background made it hard to pick out the aerial performers. As with every Cirque de Soliel show I have seen, the performers push the envelope of what is humanly possible. There’s at least one moment in each show where I say, “People can’t do that!” In this performance there were several: a person not only dancing on their hands, but leaping and bounding as well; a man balancing on two cylinders, one 90 degrees from the other; another man who could move isolated parts of his body by the action of individual muscles I would swear most people don’t even have. There were also some truly amazing child performers, such as twin aerialists Valerya and Veronika Tomanmova.

The Cirque performers were joined by volunteers from other Las Vegas shows, and by Grammy-nominated “X Factor” winner singer Leona Lewis, who performed her songs “Bleeding Love, “ and “Thunder”, and was very fine. She is justly famous for her amazing voice.

Kudos definitely to director Hassan El Hajjami, who pulled it all together, including moving in, setting up, and prepping the show in the Smith Center in 24 hours (rehearsals had been conducted in another space). This was a really beautiful and amazing performance for an excellent cause, and we were very glad to have seen it.

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Made in Nerdwalkee

On Saturday afternoon, June 11th, we went to 42 Ale House for the “Made in Nerdwalkee” art and craft sale. This was a fascinating show, which has expanded from the function space to an outdoor tent (fortunately, not too hot when we were there). This was a really nifty show, that showed how technology has affected arts and crafts. Besides traditional jewelry, soaps, drawings, and fabric arts, there were also items made with Three-D printing, or computer-controlled laser cutting. We spent a good hour walking around the displays, chatting with the artists and admiring the goods and the many clever designs.

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Midsummer Masquerade: “Dieselpunk USO”

Saturday evening, the 11th, we drove up to the American Legion Hall in Mequon for the second Milwaukee area Midsummer Masquerade. The Legion hall is a small but nice venue, and the organizers had laid on a decent snack buffet included with the ticket price. Open bar prices were very reasonable also, at two dollars for a soft drink, and only three for a cocktail.

Live entertainment was provided by The Rat Package Cabaret Troupe, who put on two sets of World War II/Korean War Era song and dance. The performers, lead by Rich Mach and Lori Minetti, put on a good show and engaged with the audience. They had a good repertoire of songs, including short Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe tributes.

There wasn’t a huge turnout, but the people that were there dressed for the occasion and had a good time. According to signs, another Midsummer Masquerade/Dieselpunk USO is planned for 2017. If it comes off, we will have to share the info around to get some more people there.

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