Monday, August 08, 2011

Acrobats and Performance Art at Cirque du Soleil IRIS and Lucent Dossier Experience

The ExperienceLA blog recently covered the press previews for the opening of Cirque du Soleil IRIS at the Hollywood Kodak Theatre and Lucent Dossier Experience at the Downtown LA Palace Theatre on Broadway. Over the last two weeks, I had the chance to see both of their complete performances. Both are must see acrobatic and performance art creations for both residents and visitors alike. Cirque du Soleil is in for a long run at the Kodak Theatre, while Lucent Dossier at this time was a single sold out performance at the recently renovated Palace Theatre.

The performance of Lucent Dossier Experience reminded me of the rawness of Cirque du Soleil when they first came to Los Angeles in 1986 for their North American premiere as a legacy of the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival. If my memory serves me correctly, they set up their tent in the City of LA owned parking lot near what is now the Geffen Contemporary, and then their next visit to Los Angeles was a tent in the parking lot adjacent to the Santa Monica pier. Is it a coincidence that the Trapeze School of New York's Los Angeles location is on Santa Monica Pier? Cirque du Soleil has created an entire industry for acrobats, gymnasts, trapeze artists, and dancers. In fact the number of jobs being created at the Kodak Theater most likely exceeds any original estimate when the facility was built as part of the original Hollywood and Highland Project. The overall economic impact for Hollywood is significant with Cirque du Soleil now in residence.

Lucent Dossier's offices and rehearsal facility is located in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District. Los Angeles itself has a long history of acrobatics and showcasing champion gymnasts at the original Muscle Beach near the Santa Monica pier. Thus, in watching those flying through the air for both of these cirques, I remember before there was a Cirque du Soleil, seeing amazing acrobatic stunts at a 1970 (approximate date) Pasadena City College sponsored gymnastics open competition that encouraged the best gymnasts of the area to compete. Word was out that Mark Davis from Southern Illinois University would be the first one in the world to throw a triple from the high bar in an official competition. Comments in the crowd was that this was like bringing the circus into a gymnastics competition. Speaking of a circus, Mark Davis later surprised the audience while on the rings with his clown routine. With gasps of concern from the crowd before they realized it was a comedy stunt, Mark Davis entertained the crowd, once they realized it was comedy. Mark Davis would continue to do the clown ring routine at other competitions. Little did people realize that the development of these skills in competitive gymnastics and acrobatics that would form the basis for what now entertains us from Cirque du Soleil and even Lucent Dossier, and even the use of humor folded into acrobatics.

I was even surprised to find that you can see Mark Davis doing his clown ring routine on this YouTube video from 1977 near the end of the sequence. With regard to the building of human pyramids, which is a major feature to the Hollywood Cirque IRIS show, again the original Muscle Beach near the Santa Monica Pier has a long history of such feats, including this rather modest one when compared to Cirque du Soleil that I captured several years back. And you can even find this clip of Mark Davis throwing a a quad from the swinging rings at Muscle Beach from the late 1960s. The Venice historical books and those of Muscle Beach show some of the Muscle Beach acrobatic pictures from the 1940s onwards including those with Jack Lalanne participating in the human pyramids.

Up until the Palace Theatre performance, Lucent Dossier had earned its reputation performing at Burning Man and Coachella, although many had seen them perform at the Edison in Downtown LA. Neither of which I had attended, and thus it took the Palace Theatre performance to showcase these local talented performers so that I and I suspect hundereds of others could also discover them. With people still talking about Lucent Dossier on social media channels, I would hope that Dream Rockwell who runs (and performs in) Lucent Dossier is working on the possibility of a return engagement at the Palace Theatre.

Here is a link to the pictures that I previously took at the Cirque du Soleil IRIS press event, and below are embedded links to my latest picture sets as skude shows for Lucent Dossier that will have to hold you over until their next performance. Due to the swift movement and lighting conditions, these are not the easiest images to capture.

This first set are pictures taken outside and inside the Palace Theatre before the show began:

The second set is the first half of Lucent Dossier Experience:

And then the second half of the show, including the curtain call, and Dream Rockwell thanking the audience:

1 comment:

Curt Gibbs said...

As an Ipad user, I just noticed that the slideshow links don't work. So here is a link to the pictures that are part of this blog post: