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John Lamb, Published March 14 2012

Review: Cirque Dreams show dazzles at Fargodome

FARGO - When the El Zagal Shrine Circus comes to the Fargodome next week, it has a tough act to follow.

The circuslike stage show Cirque Dreams had the crowd at the Fargodome ooohing, aaahing, gasping and clapping Wednesday night for the show “Pop Goes the Rock.”

The Shrine Circus may have animals and clowns, but Cirque Dreams combined dazzling acrobatics with popular music and a laser show to create an experience that was more like a concert.

The touring Cirque Dreams was part of the Dome’s Broadway series and staged in the Gate City Bank Theatre configuration.

The music really only exists as a rough interpretation of the performers’ amazing acts, like the suspended aero dance to “Up Where We Belong,” or the man in the hoop twirling to “Let it Ride/You Spin Me Round.”

All of which is fine, because there is very little story to follow: Jack jumps out of his jack-in-the-box (set to “Pop Goes the Weasel,” hence the name of the show) and runs around a fun house for two 40-minute sets.

And with one energetic performance after another, there didn’t need to be a story. Heck, there really didn’t need to be a song.

Two rollerskaters spinning in tight, fast circles on a roughly 5-foot diameter platform didn’t really need the band to play an extended version of “The Heat is On.” When I heard the woman behind me exclaim, “Oh, my god,” I knew it was because she also was amazed at how the male skater (Emanuel Medini-Conte) held his partner (Vanessa Medini-Conte) straight out by her ankle as they whipped about, and not that the audience member suddenly remembered how bad the Glenn Frey song was.

Vanessa Medini-Conte later returned to climb, fly and suspend herself from chains in an aerial show so impressive, you forgot you were hearing Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.”

The musicians were fine, but the physical performers were the real stars, particularly the balancing men, Qiang Xie and Jian Zhang, when one held the other up inverted on just shoulder blades.

The young Jack (Henok Yazachew), who was flipped end over end like a rag doll by Temesgen Zada’s feet, impressed as well. After that thrilling segment, smartly set to the propulsive “I Want Candy,” the audience appreciated a 20-minute intermission to catch a breath and stretch. I know I got dizzy and my back hurt just watching it.

By the end of the show, my hands were sore from clapping so hard.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533