Best of the Day: Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai – July 15, 2015
Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.
There’s some dark artistic DNA coursing through the seams of Cirque du Soleil’s skin-tight Lycra bodysuits. The same designer who dreamt up Vlad’s skinned-carcass armor in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the fetish-drenched dreamscape couture of The Cell also worked her magic on the costumes for Varekai: They’re all the vision of legendary artist Eiko Ishioka.
Ishioka died in 2012,10 years after Varekai first started touring in the early aughts, and her work on the show was a late-career milestone: It was her first foray into the circus arts. Though logistically challenging to adapt for a horde of tumbling, backflipping, ever-contorting actors, her style was a natural fit for this show. Ishioka’s work gravitates toward the chimeric, emphasizing visually striking hybrids—of different cultures, of different species. You can see it in her East-meets-West designs and animalistic touches: sinuous shrouds, glistening carapaces, horns, scales.
In Varekai, Cirque du Soleil retcons the ancient Greek myth of Icarus so that instead of drowning, the boy who dared fly too close to the sun is flung into a lush, jungle-like world (”varekai” means “wherever” in Romany) full of such gravity-defying creatures as the crutch-bound Limping Angel and the Betrothed, a reptilian nymph.
For the show, Ishioka whipped up designs that were translated into the cast’s wardrobe: a dazzling array of some 600 costumes, shoes, and accessories that require a team of caretakers for each performance—a team that includes Cirque’s Boston-based head of wardrobe, Collette Livingston.
Tonight, see Ishioka and Livingston’s handiwork on display, as Varekai somersaults into the Agganis Arena through Sunday.
July 15-19, Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-358-7000, cirquedusoleil.com.