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'Holidaze' will 'mesmerize, fascinate'

Courtesy photo
In 2007, Cirque Dreams brought "Jungle Fantasy" to the Clay Center. On Sunday, its "Holidaze" production stops there.
WANT TO GO?Cirque Dreams HolidazeWHERE: Clay CenterWHEN: 7 p.m. SundayTICKETS: $34 and $58INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" wants to take your memories of the holiday season and crank up the volume to 11. Neil Goldberg, the creator of Cirque Dreams, said "Holidaze" is "really a celebration of everything you remember about the holiday season as a child."It's just louder, brighter and wilder.Goldberg promised "Holidaze," which comes to the Clay Center Sunday, is a spectacle. He said, "We transform the performers into penguins who balance on slippery objects. There's the train that goes around the Christmas tree, but for us, they're doing it with roller skates. We have angels soaring in the air and doing amazing acrobatics and rag doll contortionists bending and twisting inside of gift boxes, getting ready for the holiday season."I describe the show as Radio City meets the circus on Broadway.""Holidaze" isn't the first Cirque Dreams show to come to town as part of the Broadway in Charleston series. "Jungle Fantasy" came to the Clay Center in 2007. This is bigger and better, though, Goldberg said."Jungle Fantasy," he said, had 24 performers on stage. With "Holidaze," there are 32, and the whole production is just more layered, more intricate. There's more music, more costume changes and just a lot more going on at any given moment.
In the previous show, Goldberg explained, acts had an eight-minute time limit. Now, they've cut the time on stage in half. They had to, Goldberg said, because the attention span of audiences is ever shrinking thanks to constant access to the Internet and television."The two-hour show really goes fast," he said.When putting on a show like this, Cirque Dreams had to do more than just look for the best acrobats or contortionists. Goldberg said the production looked for novelty, for acts that were very different than what most people see.
"We're always looking for what's unique."And he couldn't be more pleased with the results. Goldberg said the show has been wildly popular, so popular that it has three touring groups working simultaneously."We have two touring the U.S. and one group that's touring military bases throughout Korea," he said.The members of the cast come from all over the world."We work with the state school of contortion in Mongolia and the Beijing Acrobatic Association," he said. "We work with circus programs in Ethiopia, throughout Cuba and South America as well as a variety of arts colleges throughout Russia."To make it all work while on the road, the company brings along translators to smooth things out, but the performers speak a common language through their art. The tougher part, he said, is getting everyone fed and making sure dietary restrictions are met.
What's amazing to Goldberg is how it all comes together."The show is really very accessible," he said. "It's a great show for the whole family. Children will be mesmerized, and grandparents will be fascinated."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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