Two cloud-patterned companions weave through throngs of paper mâché creatures as the world expands around them, offering new experiences for them to explore and create. At Cirque du Soleil’s U.S. Premiere of “ECHO,” an entire universe congregates to explore the bond between humans and animals, the colorful and the achromatic, and imagination and reality.
In an exposition of acrobatic feats, flexibility, strength, grace, and beauty, “ECHO” reminds us all that the smallest actions have the biggest ripples.
“ECHO” is Cirque du Soleil’s 20th Big Top creation and 51st overall production. Cirque du Soleil began in 1984 with a group of 20 performers on the streets near Quebec City. Since then, they’ve expanded, performing across 90 countries to break rules, boundaries, and seemingly the laws of physics around the world. “ECHO” is largely defined by the CUBE, a 23 sq. ft., two-story apparatus that served as the centerpiece for the production. When assembled, the cube serves as a canvas for projectors to unravel the story ahead. It is made up of 40 lightweight blocks that are displaced, inserted, tossed, and demolished to create continuous pulsation, change, and evolution of the set piece.
Traipsing across the stage adorned with bright sky motifs were FUTURE and her kindred confidante Ewai The Dog, portrayed by Louana Seclet-Monchot and Philippe Dupuis respectively. Seclet-Monchot ran jubilantly across the stage, taking the audience with her on her journey. She flew over a drove of animals below her, astonishing all with her balance and mobility on the Washington Trapeze. Balanced on her head, she reaches for the final piece of the CUBE, symbolizing the new generation and the hope it holds for rebuilding our world. Dupuis was a pillar of unconditional love, eliciting ear scratches from the audience and following at FUTURE’s heels. In a moment of giddy exuberance, Dupuis embodied the spirit of a dog and gets carried away playing catch, breaking into truly exceptional juggling and incorporating more and more implements as he throws, bounces, bites, and catches his balls.
“ECHO” carries a through-line of global industrialization. Leading this charge is DOUBLE TROUBLE, played by Clément Malin & Caio Sorana. The duo’s sole focus is productivity, although efficiency falls to the wayside as the hysterical emcees rib on one another; balance 40-plus foot-high towers of boxes; interact with the audience; and perform astounding balancing acts on a ladder. Charting a course for the journey was the Piotr Kopacz as the CARTOGRAPHER. Kopacz showcased the bungee straps, swinging, flying, and flipping suspended in the air.
Acting as a machine to extract boxes from the cube were Seife Desta Buser and Abiy Saleamlak Negash performing the Icarian Games. Flipping and spinning at dizzying speeds, the duo showcased their strength and cohesion. Beautiful firefly drones swarmed above, setting the stage for the vulnerable and intense display of Hair Suspension by the FIREFLIES, Charlotte O’Sullivan and Penelope Elena Scheidler. Passion and intimacy connected the two as they majestically soared through the air. Multi-colored figures crowded the stage in a dazing mixture of banquine, Korean cradle, and flying poles. These COLOR PAPER PEOPLE brought an energy of pure joy to the stage, led by Taye Gebeyehu Yemam in a true celebration of dance, music, and performance. “ECHO” contains multitudes of additional acts, including the FOSSORIAL’s (Strauss Serpent) contortion, Chrysalid performances, double slackwire, and more. The true highlight was the triple teeterboard, an act of true jubilation that celebrated the show’s message of connection. In tandem or apart, the jaw-dropping feats had the audience clutching their armrests in anticipation and amazement.
While the first thing that comes to mind in terms of Cirque du Soleil performers are acrobats, there’s also a slew of musicians and vocalists who tie the show together. The vocals were heavenly, blending into a chilling sonata that guided the story. The instrumentalists astounded all, shrouded in black outfits complete with pronged horns, keeping an eye on the performance to perfectly time each syncopation and impact from the performers. Each piece of technology and costuming contributed to the vision of the show, from projections to drones, crumpled-paper animal heads to sky-toned makeup, and spotlights to aural impacts. The crew and creative team created an exceptional exhibition, showcasing the unique talents of each and every artist onstage.
“ECHO” encapsulates a story of the connections between humans and the earth; the joy and creativity that join us; and the world that we have to create, expand, and enjoy. In an exposition of acrobatic feats, flexibility, strength, grace, and beauty, “ECHO” reminds us all that the smallest actions have the biggest ripples.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 30 minutes with a 25-minute intermission.
“ECHO” runs through October 22, 2023 under the Big Top, Tysons II, 8025 Galleria Drive, Tysons, VA 22102. Performances run Wednesdays through Sundays. Various show times are available, ranging from 11:30 am, 1 pm, 3:30 pm, 5 pm, and 7:30 pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, go online.