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Kurios and Kurios-er

Man doing acrobatics on pile of chairs
Photo: Martin Girard / Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil

One would think that after 30 years of making audiences gasp with wonder that perhaps the Cirque du Soleil formula might be getting a bit tired and in need of a refresh. But the power of ‘Kurios’, the Canadian entertainment titan’s latest production, is such that even if you have been lucky enough to see Cirque a number of times, this latest creation should be on your must-see list.

The Cirque du Soleil team has created a world full of curiosities underneath the spires of the Cirque Big Top specially constructed at Hamilton Wharves in Brisbane, where acrobats with trains on their heads and giant all-seeing eyes intermingle with a Mad Professor (the Seeker) guiding us through all his creations.

Before the show even begins some lucky audience members are tasked with walking precariously over a suspension bridge in the circus ring. Others are charged with pedalling a bike to bring to life the lights overhead. All combining to let you know you’re in for a ride into a Victorian era, steam-punk, Dr Doolittlesque, fantasy world.

Man balances on circus equipment
Photo: Martin Girard / Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil

Kurios is an assault on the senses, with so much going on it’s hard to know where to look. The performance space shifts around the audience constantly. The segues between performances are as impressive and thought out as the acts themselves, and the acts are dazzling.

Strong man Andrei Kalesnikau from the Ukraine and his petite gymnast sidekick Olena Tereshchenko emerges from a gigantic fairytale musical box. Kalesnikau throwing Tereshchenko into mid-air trapeze style using nothing but his own strength. Or the perfectly timed juggling of Gabriel Baudoin takes batons to a whole new level, literally plunging ten metres straight down and not fumbling one of the spinning items.

All the physical feats on display are made that much more impressive by the spectacular detailed costumes, each adding its own hurdle to the performances.  A highlight was acrobats joined at the hip and wearing huge bustles on dresses that complicate the performers every move from the top of the spire to the performance space below.

The crowd was roaring from the first act, wondering how it could possibly be topped, but in a defiant display of how far the imagination can stretch, writhing creatures emerge as if from an alien ship. A dinner party with an array of fantasy guests evolve into a jenga formation of chairs. Rising up into the air until a mirror image dinner party is revealed above, on the ceiling of the Big Top, mirroring their every move until the chairs all meet in mid-air – it’s absolutely magical.

Photo: Martin Girard / Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil

Spectacular yo-yo’s spinning faster than you could ever imagine mix with a man balancing on bowling balls while swinging in mid air. 

The audience can enjoy Kurios on so many levels, the baroque gypsy music that is played live throughout, the multilayered choreography spinning performances out all around the space. The lighting, sound, and spectacle combine into a dizzying milieu that captivate, and fill the senses with wonder and awe.  

It is worth seeing Kurios to be truly filled with awe at what the human body is capable of, and the incredible skill and persistence that helps create such beauty. Fling yourself along for the ride into this steampunk world if you can. You’ll come out absolutely buzzing.

Photo: Martin Girard / Costumes: Philippe Guillotel © 2014 Cirque du Soleil

Kurios is playing until 23 February, 2020. For more information visit

This article has been edited by Shane Webb.

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