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Story by Carolyn Stewart, Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

May 27, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Cirque Du Soleil began their five day run of “Varekai” at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria on Wednesday evening and judging by the rousing standing ovation at the end of the night, fans were thoroughly entertained by the athletic and entertaining spectacle that they saw.

The Skywatcher welcomes fans to the Cirque Du Soleil’s performance of “Varekai” at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

This is definitely not your father’s circus. Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai is a spectator sport like no other. It is a 21st century spectacle of sights, sounds, colours and amazing feats of incredible athleticism by performers who are every bit as fit, if not more, than the regular athletes that normally patrol the ice of Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

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Colorful, ornate costumes were the highlight of one of the opening acts of Varekai (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

According to the Cirque Du Soleil web site, the word Varekai means “wherever” in the Romany language of the gypsies, the universal wanderers. The production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai, a world deep within the forest, at the summit of a volcano.

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A Russian dancer leaps high into the air during the opening of Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai in Victoria on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The story chronicles the life of a solitary young man who parachutes into the shadows of the magical forest and then sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary.

Varekai is a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical, colorful creatures, the first of whom we meet is the “Skywatcher,” who entertained the crowd with his crazy antics and insane facial expressions.

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Academy Award winning designer Eiko Ishioka is the woman behind the incredible costumes featured in Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai now on in Victoria (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

He was soon joined on stage by some of the most ornately costumed performers you will ever see, the range of colours and styles simply too mind boggling to be able to adequately describe here. You can thank Academy Award winning designer Eiko Ishioka for that. Add to the mix dancers, acrobats and gymnasts doing flips and the opening number itself was well worth the price of admission.

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The Skywatcher is part mad scientist and he brought his strange cart of creations on stage with him on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Soon after that, wrapped in a net, the character “Icarus” drops from the sky and begins an impressive aerial dance, before dropping to the stage where he is greeted by Skywatcher and “The Guide”, or as this author liked to call him, the “Man With the Lightbulb on His Head.”

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The character Icarus drops from the sky to begin his journey into Varekai (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Icarus attepts to escape the net he was trapped in before falling to earth and beginning his journey through Varekai (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Icarus soon meets his “Betroved” and after that, the show evolves into an impressive mix of drama,acrobatics and a series of stunning artistic performances. A group of five red and yellow costumed tumblers seem to defy gravity with their flips and moves. A trapeze artist hangs by her foot, 40 feet above the stage, a magician and his sidekick entertain the crowd and a series of Russian dancers generate sparks, literally, when they add high speed sword fighting to their routine.

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A group of red and yellow clad tumblers defy gravity with their routine in Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

And that was just before the intermission.

The fun continued after the break with a pair of acrobats performing an an amazing aerial ballet of precision and power, water nymph costumed gymnasts flinging and catching each other on a faux pond, the most amazing baton twirling and juggling exhibition one will ever see, and the incredible grace and strength of a woman who balances on a strategically placed series of small “canes”, using muscles that are not physically posessed by any other human being in the world.

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Russian dancers put on a great dispay of Georgian dancing in Varekai on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“These performers are amazing, I can’t imagine the amount of training and skill that must go into it,” said first timer, Elizabeth Taylor, enjoying the show with her husband. “The trapeze artist in the first half was hanging from her neck and then a second later from her foot.”

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The Skywatcher (right) has an interesting discussion with The Guide (left), AKA the Man With The Light Bulb on His Head (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The show saved its best for last however with a routine called the Russian Swings, where acrobats hurled themselves high into the air, landing on their partners’ crossed wrists or on large white sails of landing canvas. They even leaped, spectacularly, from one swing to another, much to the delight of the gasping crowd.

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This trapeze artist stunned the crowd with her dexterity and strength 40 feet above the stage (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

There were so many incredible acts over the two hour show, there was something for all ages to enjoy. And enjoy they did, especially in the close confines of the ampitheatre style set up at the arena. There simply was not a bad seat in the house to watch what was a fantastic evening’s worth of entertainment.

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And what’s a circus without a clown, or in this case a magician, who looked to the crowd for applause after successfully completing the magic rings illusion (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Varekai continues its five-day run in Victoria with shows on Thursday May 28 (7:30 pm), Friday May 29th (4:00 pm and 7:30 pm), Saturday May 30th (4:00 pm and 7:30 pm) and Sunday May 31st (1:30 pm and 5:00 pm).

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The Skywatcher and some of his Varekai forest friends dance over the prone body of Icarus during Wednesday’s show (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Tickets range in price from $25-$130 for children (2-12) and $45-$150 for adults and are on sale at the Save-on-Foods box office or via http://www.selectyourtickets.com/ 

To see more photos from Cirque Du Soleils Varekai by ISN Photogrpaher Christian J. Stewart, please visit the gallery on our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.988286917857523.1073741840.138350132851210&type=1