How does our reality shape our relationship with God? This is the major question that the troop made of 13 French Canadians addressed during their 75 minute performance. As the brochure so well put it: “TABARNAK is a celebration of Heaven and Hell and everything in between.” While most of us develop our spiritual lives with our feet firmly planted on the ground, these performers actively defied gravity in their attempts to thrill the audience into a closer relationship with the divine. On Sunday, Sept. 29, there was a spectacular one-time showing of “TABARNAK,” a Production of Cirque Alfonse in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The show married rock ‘n’ roll with acrobatics, and is fun for all ages.

This theme was best exemplified in an act that came close to the conclusion. A stained glass window was a part of the backdrop throughout the performance, which was dropped down and attached to chords extending to the ceiling. The two most talented acrobats in the troop had a dancing act set to tribal, beat driven music. The female acrobat sang along in a gospel style on the giant oscillating swing that the stained glass became. Although I didn’t understand the French that was being sung throughout the show, this act was a clear climax. The two acrobats had the young boy next to me on his feet with his hands covering his mouth in amazement.

The audience consistently clapped to the beat, and clapped at the gymnastic feats. The three musicians were the glue that held together a wide range of moods and genres over the course of the performance. The woman on the drums and the man on the keyboard were utility players, often going unrecognized, but never having their merit questioned. The guitar/fiddle player was the musician of the three that impressed me most. The man played both instruments as a virtuoso, changing between different styles with incredible dexterity. He and the two stained-glass dancers were the strongest performers in the act.

The music was unlike that of which I have ever heard. There were Native American tribal chants, mixed with rhythm and blues guitar licks, mixed with often whimsical-carnivalesque circular chord changes. During their performance, I was reminded of Miles Davis “In a Silent Way,” mixed with The Beatles “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” There were different times throughout the performance when different styles were more easily identifiable, but there was always an element of indescribable synergy taking place between those who were playing, those who were singing and those who were doing acrobats. The musicians knew each other well enough to play to each other’s strengths. All in all, the show truly had me on the edge of my seat.

Make sure to have your tickets booked for the next time Cirque Alfonso is in town!

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