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Seattle welcomes Cirque du Soleil

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Photo by Lindsey Anderson
Photo by Lindsey Anderson

The stage seems to bend around contortionist Oyun-erdene Senge with each precise movement. Oyuna does not strain or even shake while spinning around and balancing on three small poles. The music intensifies, but the contortionist never loses their concentration. Small gasps are heard from the crowd; Oyuna smiles faintly. A lifetime of performing has led to this moment, when the crowd focuses on Oyuna and a connection is forged through awe and inspiration.

Oyuna is one of the many performers sharpening up their acts for the opening night of Cirque du Soleil's Seattle performance of its show Alegria. While this is not Oyuna's first time in the show, passion and excitement still run deep. "I have been performing with Cirque du Soleil for almost seventeen years," says Oyuna, "I started when I was eleven years old on the original Alegria, and I have done four shows with Cirque du Soleil so far."

Cirque du Soleil includes performers from 27 different countries, and Oyuna was proud to add Mongolia to the list. "Feeling grateful and so happy to add my Mongolian flag back to the row of flags!" Oyuna said in a post on Instagram shortly before coming to Seattle.

Oyuna believes audiences can glean new perspectives from the variety of physical performances Alegria has to offer. "I hope the audience can see what the body can do because, with contortion, that's what I'm trying to show people, that you can create these shapes with your bodies," Oyuna says. "So I find that very cool, and I hope they get to see the different shapes and the strength of what the human body can do and most importantly just take a lot of happiness and joy and inspiration and excitement."

Alegria is a chance for performers like Oyuna to showcase their amazing abilities, but it is also a story for audiences to connect. The show tells the story of a kingdom in ruins and on the brink of revolution: a timely tale for all those struggling through 2021. The performers hope to bring new joy to an audience that has been waiting nearly two years to see live theater again.

While Oyuna's performance shows the possibilities of the human body through contortion, they also work hard to maintain a level of strength and endurance most can only dream of. The contortionist remarks, "The hardest part would be maybe staying in shape and keeping the level high, and giving your 100% every time because we do eight to ten shows a week, so kind of maintaining would be the hard part, but at the same time, we're doing so many shows, so it comes quite natural."

With eight to ten shows a week, some might think it'd be easy to burn out, but not for Oyuna. "The performance part is really fun, then you know you get to perform your art, and you receive so much love and energy back from the audience, so that's amazing." The energy helps Oyuna to give their all in each performance.

For Oyuna, performing means more than just honing strength and flexibility; the art of contortion is also about connecting to oneself. "My performance, so I do contortion and hand balancing, and it's quite intimate, feminine, at the same time very strong," says Oyuna. Finding the connections between femininity and strength have helped Oyuna to understand just how their abilities can go. "You'll see a lot of strength and flexibility," Oyuna says of the act, which reflects the complexities of feminine power.

Photo by M-A Lemire ©2019 Cirque du Soleil  

Cirque du Soleil provides a space for performers to display their talents and strengths regardless of who they are or where they come from. The show encourages people to explore the unique characteristics make them strong. Through their differences, Cirque's artists form a tight-knit chosen family, reflecting experiences that Queer fans of the show can relate to.

"I think at Cirque du Soleil we are open to everyone, and it's just to show art and to be human and to just be always together," says Oyuna. The solidarity performers feel with one another derives from their shared human experiences, regardless of what they look like or how they perform. "We all come from 27 different countries, all from different nationalities, different cultures, different backgrounds, so I think the circus is a beautiful community, and we're here to show that to the rest of the world." Oyuna believes that queer audiences especially can find inspiration and connection when they attend the circus.

If you're looking for a fun night out, inspiration, and connection to the human experience, look no further than Cirque du Soleil's Alegria.

Alegria plays at King County's Marymoor Park, under the big top, from January 18, 2022, to March 13, 2022. Tickets are available now at https://tickets.cirquedusoleil.com/shop/#/4c011685-f23a-4c84-b064-4c22ef70c9e0/shop/select?locale=en&skin=alegria_v2