Dream On: Cirque’s KURIOS show at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

While much of America tuned into the Republican debate last night, I was watching curiosities of a different kind at KURIOS – Cabinet des Curiosités created by the enigmatic Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. This show may not tour as long as the run for presidency (it ends in Los Angeles on February 7, 2016 before visiting Atlanta, Boston, NY, and DC), but it is a wonderful way to get lost in theatrical alchemy: acrobatics, steam punk fashion, otherwordly creatures, and soaring vocals by the brilliant Greek singer, Erini Tornesaki.

As soon as you enter the Cirque’s big top tent, or the Grand Chapiteau, you give yourself over to Kurios‘ fantastical world of the late 19th century, an era of steam power and engineering that influenced a whole subgenre of science fiction (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne, HG Wells’ Time Machine) and steam punk culture.

Our Kurios scientist is the inventor of a machine that transcends time and space. When the clock freezes at 11.11 — wishing hour — we’re introduced to the main characters in his cabinet of curiosities. There’s an accordion-shaped man; a telegraph named Klara in a hoop skirt that transmits messages; and Mr Microcosmos, the embodiment of the technological process, whose subconscious takes the form of a tiny lady named Mini Lili that lives in his boiler-as-potbelly.

I love Cirque for its contortionists, acrobats, and balancing acts, and in this show, they’re  as amazing as ever. A quartet of bendy ladies dressed as sea creatures effortlessly twist into unreal poses atop a giant mechanical hand. Twin aerialists display muscular strength while arm balancing on a set of rings. Rebounding off of an Acro Net, artists jump, flip, and glide through the air like swimmers in the sea. And just when you thought you’d seen it all, a chair balance taking place at a dinner party is interrupted by a second party happening above, upside down, on the ceiling. Suddenly, two sets of chairs  are being stacked towards each other from opposite directions. Teetering on the brink, they finally touch.

Perhaps the most unexpected act of the show is the finger puppetry, where one hand, costumed in sneakers and a baseball cap, dances to hip hop, swims, and performs skateboard moves on a mini theatre stage — all filmed with live video that’s projected onto a giant screen — before taking off in a hot air balloon. The act ends as a love story (there’s a second set of fingers involved) on top of an audience member’s head. It shouldn’t make sense, but it does – a perfect example of success in bizarre experimentation.

That’s the thing about Cirque du Soleil. It asks us to embrace the unexpected and stretch beyond our imaginations. I’m always compelled to write more, dream bigger, and read fiction after a show (I’m about to watch Oz the Great and Powerful actually). In Kurios, an invisible theatre act forces you to fill the void of the unseen characters whose presence is only made apparent by the consequences of their movements. Sound strange? It is, but it can be as crazy as you imagine it.

Other acts include the gripping Rola Bola that involves an aviator balancing atop a stack of tubes on a swing; a yo-yo extraordinaire (he lends a retro air); an aerial cyclist; and acrobats performing mesmerising synchronised sequences.

The whirlwind two-hour performance comes to an end when the Kurios clock flips to 11.12. As we filed out, I dared the performance to inhabit my dreams.

Photos Martin Girard / shootstudio.ca

Early Mornings…

To really see a city means to get up early before chaos renders it opaque. When I worked in Sydney, I’d catch an earlier bus just so I could grab coffee at Starbucks by Wynyard Station and watch the CBD unfurl into busyness. Crossing the Harbour Bridge at that time felt like I was waking up with the Pacific Ocean – I remember how it twinkled under the sun as if blinking it’s way out of a long slumber.

Early-morning walks make for good memories. One day in June, when we lived in New York, my husband and I wanted to dodge the breakfast lines at Clinton Street Baking Co., so we woke with the alarm, drove to the East Village, lucked a parking spot, and scored a table within 20 minutes. The ricotta pancakes soaked in blueberry sauce were divine and coffee never tasted so good (who doesn’t love an early AM jolt?), but what I particularly savoured were those moments walking to the cafe, when we’d had the streets to ourselves and seen beyond the well-trodden footpaths and summer haze that later descended. The village revealed hidden graffiti, artwork painted over unfolded roller doors, and above, fire escapes in an array of colours. The hosed-down pavements reminded us of how beautiful it is to start the day with a clean slate.

In late 2013, I’d made a pact with myself to wake up with the first sunrise of the upcoming new year. We were booked into a Santa Barbara hotel across from the ocean and at dawn on January 1st my husband slept while I, in my bathrobe and sneakers, ventured outside. Through the palm trees, I saw a sky brushed orange and pink. I crossed the street to watch the light ascend and breathed it all in — the salty air, the mist, the light. A few early birds and after-party stragglers still drinking beer were perched along the beach wall. We all shared in the awakening of a brand new year.

I’m flying home to Sydney in a few months’ time and can’t wait to experience its summer mornings; to see the sun-dappled Pacific and to watch the city prepare for the working day as I drink a cup of great Sydney brew. While I doubt I’ll be ordering from the aforementioned Starbucks, I wonder if it is still there. I’ll let you know.

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East Village mornings

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Pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Co.

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Roller-door murals

Up with the early birds in East Village

Up with the early birds in East Village

Santa Barbara sunrise

Santa Barbara sunrise

A new year in Santa Barbara, 2014

A new year in Santa Barbara, 2014

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Sunrise on the beach in Santa Barbara

Happy International Peace Day

Love. You’ll find references to it everywhere you look: on walls, with family, inside a fortune cookie, and in latte art.

Love is the antidote to fear. I’m sending a generous dose of feel-good your way to amp up the peace quotient across the world. I hope you’ll pass it on…

Street art, El Paso, Texas, October 2012

Street art, El Paso, Texas, October 2012

Shadows: me and my little sis, San Francisco, February 2013

Shadows: me and my little sis, San Francisco, February 2013

Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 2012

Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 2012

Close up of the above street art

Close up of the above street art

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Manhattan, NY, July 2012

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Manhattan, NY, July 2012

Coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, DUMBO, Brooklyn, October 2012

Coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, DUMBO, Brooklyn, October 2012

Pasted poster, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012

Pasted poster, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012

Downtown Los Angeles, July 2014

Downtown Los Angeles, July 2014

Staten Island September 11 Memorial with view of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Staten Island September 11 Memorial with view of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Chocolate = love, Red Hook, Brooklyn, May 2012

Chocolate = love, Red Hook, Brooklyn, May 2012

Love locks on Brooklyn Bridge, January 2012

Love locks on Brooklyn Bridge, January 2012

Near the Red Square, Moscow, July 2014

Near the Red Square, Moscow, July 2014

Fortune cookies at Jade Island, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Fortune cookies at Jade Island, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Street art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, July 2012

Street art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, July 2012

A kiss from my husband, Sedona, Arizona, November 2012

A kiss from my husband, Sedona, Arizona, November 2012

Roses, From NY to CA, USA

“Stop and smell the roses,” they say. Well, you know what? I did, I do, and will continue to bow down and inhale their sweet, delicate fragrance because it is one of the simplest, most beautiful pleasures in life.

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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April 2012, Soho, New York

June 2013, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

June 2013, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

August 2012, Union Square, New York

August 2012, Union Square, New York

October 2012, DUMBO, Brooklyn

October 2012, DUMBO, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Red Hook, Brooklyn

May 2012, Red Hook, Brooklyn

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July 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Birthday Flowers)

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

April 2013, Santa Monica, Los Angeles

April 2013, Santa Monica, Los Angeles

July 2014, Brentwood, Los Angeles (Birthday flowers from Steph, Andrew, and Ben!)

July 2014, Brentwood, Los Angeles (Birthday flowers from Steph, Andrew, and Ben!)

March 2012, Laguna Beach, Laguna

March 2012, Laguna Beach, Laguna

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

March 2012, Carlsbad, S. California

March 2012, Carlsbad, S. California

May 2014, Huntington gardens, Pasadena, S. California

May 2014, Huntington Gardens, Pasadena, S. California

May 2012, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

May 2012, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

September 2014 in Brentwood, Los Angeles

September 2014, Brentwood, Los Angeles

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

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Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who was born on this date in 1929, won her best actress Oscar for the enchanting 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring opposite Gregory Peck. And here’s a photo from the film courtesy of AMC. (via Los Angeles Times)

My San Antonio Top 5, Texas ~ Road Trip Series, Part 5

A few months ago, I passed through San Antonio in Texas. The bad news is that because we were on a cross country road trip, we’d only managed to stay overnight, and half of the next day. The good news is that this made it easy for me to scribe my top 5. This list is adapted from the etchings of my memory. Enjoy!

# 5  The San Antonio Museum of Art: I love to visit museums, and especially appreciate those with manageable, and varied, collections of antiquities, paintings, and sculpture.

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries - Greek, 4th -1st Century BC

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries – Greek, 4th -1st Century BC

Torso of a Woman, and Marcus Aurelius - Roman AD 140-150

Torso of a Woman, and Marcus Aurelius – Roman AD 140-150

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"Double Scramble" (1968 by American, Frank Stella

“Double Scramble” (1968 by American, Frank Stella

# 4 Stopping by The Alamo: it’s the site of heroism and freedom encapsulated.

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DSC_0979PS# 3 Lunching is always a highlight. Luckily in Texas they eat big… This spot is located along the city’s famed Riverwalk.

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Guacamole

Guacamole

DSC_0962PSDSC_0970PSDSC_0963PSDSC_0955PS# 2 Sleeping like a baby in the haunted Emily Morgan hotel.

*Legend has it that Emily Morgan is the Yellow Rose of Texas. She was a Texan spy that helped distract the Mexican president as Texians staged an attack and paved the way towards independence.

DSC_0932PSDSC_0931PSDSC_0933PSDSC_0925PS# 1 Being greeted to the warmest day since we left New York City in October, 2012. Wide quiet streets, palms, flowers, and the warm sun couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the weather we had left behind in the Big Apple. It felt good.

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Prelude to the US Road Trip ~ The Move

Sometimes being prepared is not preparation enough.

Exhausted.

It just so happens that our long distance move took place today, the day before we’re to set off on a grand cross country road trip. We did actually schedule it this way, but a little bit of extra pre planning wouldn’t have gone astray. Read: packing a couple of days earlier so we could have anticipated that another pod was required in addition to the 2 we had ordered weeks ago.

Thinking we have less stuff than we actually do is calling for a reality check. Perhaps I just live under the illusion that I abide by the motto – less is more.

My husband, who celebrated his birthday taping boxes, hardly slept a wink last night, and proclaimed today, at 6am, that we’d need an extra pod to fit all of our possessions. He had calculated this by measuring various bits of furniture and visualizing how the boxes would need to be stacked, in a Tetris like order. He’d concluded that another 5 x 7 x 8 ft container was essential so as to leave no piece of furniture behind.

Oh, the early morning stress.

Choosing portable storage – versus a moving company, or self-driving a truck – was my idea. We’d experienced the delayed arrival, damaged furniture, and overcharges of a van line company years ago. We’d driven a truck across the country, filled to the brim with our possessions, and understand how tackling such a lengthy trip in a span of 3 days can leave you unbelievably tired… especially the driver, who has to maneuver his body in exaggerated ways at the wheel of a heavy truck, navigating it down steep hills hills, and around sharp corners.

I will never forget the vibration of what sounded like faulty breaks as we drove downhill from Mt Rushmore. My face was as stony as those of the Presidents carved into the rock face; my knuckles were white from their fearful clench.

Moving with pods was something I’d never considered until this time around. I wanted to experience the beauty of the southernmost cities in the US on this trip sans the extra baggage, and I wanted to test out a 3rd method of moving/relocation in hopes of smooth sailing.

Luckily, ordering a 3rd pod this morning wasn’t a problem but it did highlight the importance of planning ahead of time, keeping a well calculated track of inventory, and budgeting accordingly. Math and volume equations do come in handy, after all!

The best thing about this experience was noticing my husband destress immediately as we heard the truck pull away from out apartment building, 3 ‘full’ pods in tow.

Crisis averted – not a bad start to the moving process. But let this be a lesson to all: have your husband do the bulk of the packing early! Just not on his birthday.