Running Away With the Cirque

But the most elaborate and popular act takes place in the finale of the program, as fifteen Slavs take the stage to present "Banquine," in which a spectacular series of human pyramids are formed with split-second synchronization. After turning several backward, airborne somersaults, one performer lands on another acrobat's shoulders, forming the top of an impressive four-man column. This one nearly brought down the tent.

Summing up the event more poignantly than any one moment, however, was the curtain call: Each performer strode to the edge of the stage clad from head to toe in a white protective suit similar to those used in decontamination rooms. Slowly the performers removed their outerwear, revealing their identities to us by way of their now-familiar costumes and welcoming, as a group, our applause.

Instead of indulging themselves in the spotlight, soaking up accolades like the matinee idols they had at that point become, this group chose to take one step backward, drop their heads and take a humble bow--an encouraging sign that, despite Cirque du Soleil's increasing forays into the commercial arena (a show is due to be permanently installed at the Walt Disney World resort in Florida sometime next year), its performers remain artists at heart.

Quidam, through November 9 at the Cirque du Soleil Big Top, adjacent to Union Station, 1-800-678-5440.

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