Cirque du Soleil

Falling into a world of wonder

‘Varekai’ adapts Icarus


Don’t fly too close to the sun.

That moral, culled from the ancient Greek myth of Icarus, has permeated culture in the centuries since the story was first told and Icarus’ fall has been told in countless ways and mediums.

It’s a safe bet that none of the retellings have the cinematic grandeur and poetic motion of Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai,” which will be dazzling audiences in Broomfield.

“Varekai” will be at the 1st Bank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, May 7-11. Showtimes will be on May 7 through 10 at 7:30 p.m., May 9 and 10 at 4 p.m. and May 11 at 1:30 and 5 p.m.

According to information provided by Vanessa Napoli with Cirque du Soleil, “Varekai” has been touring around the world for 11 years, but this is the first time it has come through the west metro area.

The title comes from the word for “wherever” in the Romany language, and Napoli said the title reflects the ability of the show to harness the imagination and take the viewers wherever they want.

As the story begins, Icarus finds himself falling out the sky into a magical forest filled with fantastical creatures, and Icarus must learn to use his legs again while finding his way through this new world.

The show is directed by Dominic Champagne, and honors the nomadic soul, as well as the circus tradition.

Gymnast and performer Emily McCarthy, originally from the United Kingdom, has been performing with “Varekai” for a little under two years, after being spotted by the organization during a competition.

“I started working with them in Montreal, and we’ve toured ‘Varekai’ in Argentina, Peru and other places in South America, and are now working our way through the US,” she said. “I trained in Montreal for a month before being integrated into the performance.”

McCarthy is a slippery surface performer, which creates the illusion of skating by the gymnasts flinging and catching each other on a specially designed sliding surface.

“It’s a team act, and since we do around six to eight shows a week, that keeps us in constant training,” she said. “I get thrown around a lot, and it’s a lot of fun.”

The show also features Russian swings, clown acts, juggling and aerial hoops and straps.

The intricacy and vividness of the costumes are one of the major factors in Cirque du Soleil’s international reputation, and McCarthy said “Varekai” is no exception.

Violaine Corradi drew inspiration from the energy and eclecticism of world music to create the score for the show. Hawaiian ritual, 11th century troubadours from the south of France, traditional Armenian melodies and gospel music with contemporary arrangements are meshed together to bring the world to life.

The seven-piece band — which includes a bandleader/keyboards player, a second keyboard player, drummer, percussionist, bassist, violinist and a wind instruments player, plus two singers—one male and one female — play live and adapt to the actions on stage.

The cumulative effect of the costumes, music and movement is one of absolute wonder, which McCarthy said will dazzle everyone in the audience.

“It’s a family show, and definitely out of this world,” she said. “It’s something people will have never seen before, and is a great experience.”

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