A few months back, a nationwide touring group came to my home town back in Indiana, and my dad treated my mom to a show for her birthday. She exclaimed how unique and entertaining Cirque Dreams' production of Jungle Fantasy was. But little did I know, in just a few weeks, I'd be the one learning the tricks of that very show!
Headquartered in South Florida, Cirque Dreams latest creation is Jungle Fantasy. And when I walked into their studio in Pompano Beach, it was like walking into a place where dreams are endless and the imagination is set free.
Musical Director Jill Winters was Cirque Dreams creator Neil Goldberg's first vocalists. "This is the best job in the world. It doesn't get any better than this. Your parents are always saying run away with the circus, and I got to do that."
Now, she takes Goldberg's almost maniacal ideas and puts music to it. There's also a lot of choreography that needs to be added.
Assistant artistic director Heather Hoffman started as an imaginar, but what exactly is an imaginary? "It's a character. Now, our imaginars come with all different talents: acting, acrobats and dancing. And Neil finds those talents and creates roles for them and adds them to the show."
It's then my turn to bring my talent to the jungle. I had a board and a cylinder - my first stab at what's called Rola Bola. With some help from one of the acrobats, Victor, I slowly learned the technique of balancing myself.
Now, Victor claims I balanced without his help for eight seconds, but I think he is exaggerating a tad.
I decided I'd be better at assisting him. But first, I needed a costume, and there is plenty of bright, colorful fabrics even "heads" to choose from.
Once in full costume, Victor gives me instructions on how I am to assist him. I am really nervous as Victor climbs up on his stand which is almost as tall as me. I then give him five cylinders. He stacks them on top of each other and then spins around. This is just one of routines in the two-hour jungle journey.
Jill says, "You walk in, and there are people that are going to fly 20 feet in the air. They are people that are going to do things you've never seen before in your life. You forget all your problems. You forget what you ate that day; what you did that day. You're in this imaginary world."
So, do they have a favorite number?
"In all honesty that would be like picking a favorite child 'cause they're all so personal to our hearts. On any given day, there's a different excitement level. They all have a different quality that makes them my favorite in their own way," says Heather.