By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs February 27, 2012
VILSECK, Germany -- It's an impressive feat -- if not an impossible one -- to keep 600 children engaged for more than an hour, but Cirque Dreams more than managed with its dizzying array of motion and sound.
Presented by Armed Forces Entertainment, "Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy" brought the Rose Barracks Memorial Fitness Center to life with two shows, here, Feb. 22. Sixteen performers wisped across the stage, including a singing ladybug and electric violin playing "soul tree" (who was in fact, sultry), aerialists, acrobats and contortionists, all weaving a cohesive jungle theme throughout show.
Dressed in elaborate costumes, butterfly ballerinas, slithering snakes and hopping frog danced around special effects and a visually stunning rain forest habitat.
Throughout the show, entertainers performed tasks that confounded audience members and made them squeal with delight.
Like many contortionists, Haley Viloria flouted the rules of anatomy and the natural way limbs should bend. Viloria stealthily crossed the stage in a lizard costume and gracefully pulled her knees to her ears … from behind her head. As her act ended and audience members retrieved their jaws from the floor, they were dazzled once again by identical twins Bing and Jun Long with a synchronized performance, which included bending themselves into a tube most people couldn't even stand in and balancing on each other like intertwined human pretzels.
Raymond Silos made his rounds inside a giant, five-foot metal hula hoop, at times spinning inside the hoop while it was nearly parallel to the ground (think a spinning coin before it settles on a side) before regrouping and continuing to roll around the stage. Later, acrobatic bumble bees, George Landkas and Miles Hay, took the game of living room "airplane" to new heights with high-risk twists, turns and flips.
Throughout the performance, the animation of the show spilled over the stage, enveloping a few lucky audience members. A safari hunter, played by Martin Lamberti, interacted with military members, teaching them Harlem Globetrotters-style basketball tricks, and later acting as a conductor to create a humorous composition of musical bells.
Likewise, two energetically overindulgent clowns brought audience members onstage for a game of monkey see, monkey do, garnering giggles from children young and old.
In the show's finale, Victor Dodonov wowed the audience with his innate ability to stay aloft atop a contraption of stacked cylinders. His final exploit, a total of seven cylinders in all, intimidated 8-year-old Taylor Crill.
"I didn't think he could do it," said Crill. "I was nervous that he was going to fall."
Such trepidation was felt throughout the room as majority of the audience held its breath, and one audience member quipped "I'd break my butt."
But alas, Dodonov proved victorious, bringing a bitter-sweet ending to a superb show.
And like the show itself, the 10-country tour spanning 17 military installations, culminated with its final performance here at Rose Barracks. The tour has been "an amazing experience," according to aerialist peacock Molly Murcia.
"We've been we on the road for the last two months performing for military audiences and every single audience we come to has been so appreciative," said Murcia. "It's an honor to be here and to give back to people that give so much to us. It's a good feeling."
Editor's Note: Jeremy S. Buddemeier, managing editor of the Bavarian News, contributed reporting.