Advertisement

Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Cirque du Soleil’

Fly or Crash? Cirque du Soleil: TORUK

September 9th, 2016 Comments off
Cirque du Soleil's TORUK (Photo: Errisson Lawrence via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s TORUK (Photo: Errisson Lawrence via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil has been entertaining audiences with its magical, whimsical, and gravity-defying aesthetic since its province-wide tour throughout Quebec in 1984. More than 30 years later, the company continues to push boundaries, having staged unique collaborations such as The Beatles: LOVE and Michael Jackson ONE. Always on the lookout for new (or rehashed, as the case may be) source material, its latest show, TORUK – The First Flight, is based on James Cameron’s Academy Award-winning film AVATAR.

Touring arenas throughout the world, TORUK is big in every sense of the word, but bigger isn’t always better. Where TORUK succeeds is in its epic spectacle. A mash-up of Land of the Lost and The Lion King, the plot loosely follows what happens when an earthquake rocks Pandora and threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls. Orphans Ralu and Entu (along with Tsyal, whom they meet along the way) head on an Into the Woods journey to gather sacred objects and fulfill the prophecy of riding the predatory Toruk and, in turn, save the fate of the Na’vi species.

Cirque du Soleil's TORUK (Photo: Errisson Lawrence via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s TORUK (Photo: Errisson Lawrence via The Broadway Blog.)

The production is a collaboration between Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, credited as the show’s writers, director, and multimedia directors. That’s a lot of hats to wear, and although TORUK soars when it comes to visual impact—particularly the spectacular video projects, which span nearly 20,000 square feet (five times larger than a standard IMAX screen).

“Set changes, which sometimes occur in the wink of an eye, are not mechanical, but optical,” says Michel. “It’s the language of film applied to the performing arts,” adds Victor. “And we alternate between large-scale, jaw-dropping effects and more intimate moments that evoke emotion.”

Cirque du Soleil's TORUK (Photo: Errisson Lawrence via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s TORUK (Photo: Errisson Lawrence via The Broadway Blog.)

It’s hard to focus the action in the 18,000-seat Barclays Center. The massive space swallows the story’s emotional journey, but you’ll likely be surrounded by kids mesmerized by the spectacle. The Na’vi species appear faithfully interpreted from Cameron’s film by costume and make-up designer Kym Barrett, but the dozens of blue unitards and face paint quickly blend together and all hope is lost of identifying one contorting gymnast from another.

Expect to see Cirque’s usual acrobatics, along with 18 kites that add new dimension to its repertoire. A group of 12 flyers perform traction kiting and in one particular scene, the protagonists leap through the tethered constructions much to the audience’s delight.

Composers and musical directors Bob & Bill have created a score inspired by the film, and while their attempt to create sounds for the various clans may go unnoticed by some, a female oracle belts out some riffs that would have The Lion King’s Rafiki shaking in her pelt.

TORUK – The First Flight might not be everyone’s Cirque cup of tea, but if you’re a fantasy fanatic and want to see one of the company’s biggest and boldest endeavors to date, you may want to climb on board.

TORUK – The First Flight
Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Through September 11

Prudential Center, Newark
September 15-18

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him online at @roodeloo.

 

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘TORUK’ Flies Into Barclays Center

August 19th, 2016 Comments off
Cirque du Soleil's 'TORUK - The First Flight.' (Photo: Errisson Lawrence; Costumes: Kym Barrett;   2015 Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘TORUK – The First Flight.’ (Photo: Errisson Lawrence; Costumes: Kym Barrett; 2015 Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

The new Cirque du Soleil touring show inspired by James Cameron’s record-breaking movie Avatar,  TORUK – The First Flight, will be presented at Barclays Center on September 7-11, as part of a global tour that launched in November of last year.

TORUK – The First Flight is a live immersive multimedia spectacle that brings to the stage the breathtaking world of James Cameron’s Avatar through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft. Buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.

Cirque du Soleil's 'TORUK - The First Flight.' (Photo: Youssef Shoufan; Costumes: Kym Barrett; 2015 Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘TORUK – The First Flight.’ (Photo: Youssef Shoufan; Costumes: Kym Barrett; 2015 Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.

Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.

When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.

TORUK – The First Flight
Barclays Center
620 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
September 7 – 11

Love Lost: ‘Paramour’ on Broadway

June 16th, 2016 Comments off

 

'Paramour' (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

‘Paramour’ (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s inaugural Broadway venture, Paramour, which officially opened at the Lyric Theatre on May 25, has elements of a big, splashy, death-defying new musical—but they are masked by director Philippe Decoufle´and creative director Jean-Francois Bouchard’s hodgepodge telling of a young woman’s journey through the golden age of Hollywood.

Ruby Lewis in 'Paramour.' (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Ruby Lewis in ‘Paramour.’ (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

It’s challenging to know where to begin in dissecting what went wrong in Cirque’s ambitious attempt, except to say that there is something decidedly awkward about the company’s encapsulation of the American musical. Dating back to 1984, Cirque du Soleil has decades of experience in storytelling through movement, acrobatics, music and spectacle. Yet harnessing that wildly creative energy into something cohesive and emotionally resonant seems to have slipped through the creators’ hands.

The plot loosely follows the newly discovered Indigo (Ruby Lewis) as producer AJ (Jeremy Kushnier) puts her on the fast track to Hollywood stardom. Her former piano player and songwriter Joey (Ryan Vona) has fallen hard for Indigo, too, and a love triangle ensues amid the towering sets, aerial acts, and high tech distractions.

There are moments of theatrical electricity, such as a meticulously choreographed filmstrip sequence staged with reference to a flipbook. It is one of choreographer Daphné Mauger’s shining moments, whereas circus acts overshadow much of her other work. A later sequence, the “Movie Poster Montage,” incorporates innovative projection design by Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann that superimposes Indigo onto some of Hollywood’s most iconic posters. “Cleopatra” is probably the most classic Cirque act of the show, featuring longtime Cirque performers Andrew and Kevin Atherton.

Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour' (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour’ (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

There’s something ironic about Paramour’s arrival at the Lyric, a theater renovated for Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky’s Ragtime (then named the Ford Center for Performing Arts). That production had a budget soaring over $11 million and shuttered under the heavy operating costs. Several theatre names and productions later (including Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, with a projected loss of $60 million), one wonders if the Lyric might have an old-fashioned curse.

Or maybe, in this case, it’s simply a series of decisions that leave the audience cold. Edit Paramour down to 90 minutes and plop it in Las Vegas and you very well might have a hit. Last week (ending June 12, 2016), Paramour was at just under 75 percent capacity. Perhaps with the number of Broadway closings this summer it will gain ground. But market something as “a love story, not only for the sense of profound human emotion, but also for the love of art,” as Decouflé states in the program notes, and you’re setting up an expectation that Paramour can’t deliver.

Paramour
Lyric Theatre
213 West 42nd Street, NYC

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @roodeloo

 

 

 

Theater Buff(s): ‘Paramour”s Andrew and Kevin Atherton

May 18th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we’re seeing double with aerial artists Andrew and Kevin Atherton, who appear in Cirque du Soleil’s first venture on Broadway: Paramour.

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour.' (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour.’ (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Names:
Andrew and Kevin Atherton

Hometown:
Wigan, Lancashire, United Kingdom. [A county to the north and west of Manchester.]

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

You’ve been performing with Cirque du Soleil for more than 16 years — how is Paramour different than the previous shows?
Andi and Kevin: Paramour combines musical theater with Cirque du Soleil and is a blend of the two otherwise very separate worlds. With Paramour we follow a very clear, linear story, told with lyrics, text, dance and acrobatics. This is something very different from our previous shows. We feel privileged and proud to be part of something like Paramour.

You famously performed in Varekai for more than 3,000 performances without ever missing a show, but what happens when one of you gets sick? Is there a hidden triplet to step in?
Andi and Kevin: There’s no hidden triplet to step in! Yes, we have been sick on numerous occasions during our time with Cirque du Soleil. Our passion for the stage and performance, along with a good adrenaline boost once we enter the stage, has meant we’ve been able to work though these obstacles. We honestly love every part of what we do, and we’d miss it if we weren’t able to perform for any reason.

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

If I weren’t an aerialist, I’d be:
Kevin: Fat and hairy.

Andi: Fatter and harrier.

Which is your favorite? Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
Andi: All of the above. I love to perform.

Kevin: Places. I love the energy backstage before the show begins. Especially at Paramour. It’s electric.

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

Our favorite best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Andi and Kevin: The New York Beer Company. It’s near the theatre and has a fun, relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to meet friends after the show.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Andi and Kevin: The High Line. This elevated parkway offers many great views of the city.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Andi: On a beach somewhere.

Kevin:  I’m a West Coast kind of guy. I love Los Angeles, so I’d probably live in the hills of West Hollywood.

Our workout “secret” is:
Andi and Kevin: Never lifting weights that are too heavy to compromise your technique. Doing so will only risk injury. We always concentrate on our form no matter what exercise we’re doing.

Our favorite website that you may not have heard of is:
Andi and Kevin: Houzz.com — It’s a favorite of ours, as we both love interior design and architecture.

People would be surprised to learn that we . . .
Andi and Kevin: Drink beer and eat burgers.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Andi: Happy, healthy, and surrounded by my family.

Kevin: A father!

Paramour opens May 25 at the Lyric Theatre. Click here for ticket information.

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @roodeloo.

Three to See: May

May 5th, 2016 Comments off

Now that the Tony Award nominations have been announced, we can all breathe a bit easier knowing that Hamilton will likely sweep every major category… but let’s make room for some of the other successful shows this season, eh? We’ll be offering a peek at some of our favorite moments from the past season, but in the meantime, May brings us some interesting openings worth checking out:

INDECENT

Indecent Vineyard Theatre
The Vineyard Theatre is on fire this season after Colman Domingo’s DOTThe Off Broadway theatre returns with Indecent by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive). This new play with music is inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance — a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel. Indecent charts the history of an incendiary drama and the path of the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it.

Indecent
Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street, NYC
Opening night: May 17

HADESTOWN

Hadestown NYTW
Put on your theatrical thinking cap… with Hadestown, celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and inventive two-time Obie Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin (Three Pianos; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) transform Mitchell’s “phenomenal concept album” (Rolling Stone) into a bold new work for the stage. This folk opera follows Orpheus’ mythical quest to overcome Hades and regain the favor of his one true love, Eurydice. Inspired by traditions of classic American folk music and vintage New Orleans jazz, Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and poetic imagination pit nature against industry, faith against doubt, and love against death.

Hadestown
New York Theatre Workshop
79 East Fourth Street, NYC
Opening night: May 23

PARAMOUR

Paramour (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Paramour (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil comes to Broadway with this landmark production, that aims to provide a new experience for both traditional Broadway musical theatergoers and Cirque du Soleil’s fans. The show will have many of the elements beloved on Broadway: a timeless love story, live musicians, and professional actors in lead roles; but with the Cirque du Soleil aesthetic integrated throughout the show: visionary production design on a grand scale, world class entertainment, and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination. Hopefully Spider-Man has cleared the building.

Paramour
Lyric Theatre
213 West 42nd Street, NYC
Opening night: May 25

Cirque du Soleil Arrives in the Mayan Riviera

November 24th, 2014 Comments off
JOYÁ (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

JOYÁ (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil extends its presence to the Mayan Riviera with the opening of JOYÀ, which premiered this past weekend at the brand new, customed-designed, 600-seat Cirque du Soleil Theater near The Grand Mayan resort. Directed by Martin Genest and Richard Dagenais, this is Cirque’s 36th production since its inception 30 years ago.

JOYA (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

JOYA (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

Behind the veil of the lush Mayan jungle exists a world of crystal-clear water pools, coral rocks, and rich flora and fauna – an oasis within an oasis. A wooden walkway leads to a theater perched above a massive lagoon cascading in a majestic waterfall. This is the world of JOYÀ.

Inspired by the fabulous migratory journey of the monarch butterfly in which life is passed from one generation to the next to ensure the survival of the species, JOYÀ follows the adventures of a rebellious teenage girl whisked away to a mysterious jungle in her grandfather’s fantastical world. Surrounded by a strange band of half-human, half-animal masters inspired by ancient Mayan iconography, the aging naturalist yearns to pass on to his granddaughter his relentless quest for the meaning of life.

Inhabited by entrancing characters that work hand in hand to perpetuate the love of life, JOYÀ abounds in subtle allusions to the history and culture of Mexico, from the migration of the monarch butterflies, to the asteroid believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, to artists such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and with mariachis, masked wrestlers, pirate legends, and the rhythms and sounds of Mexico.

Take a sneak peek at a creative preview of the immersive production…

Interview: Cirque du Soleil’s Craig Paul Smith

September 19th, 2014 Comments off
Craig Paul Smith in Cirque du Soleil's "O" (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog).

Craig Paul Smith in Cirque du Soleil’s “O” (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog).

“I’m an athlete,” says Craig Paul Smith, 41, who has performed in O, the groundbreaking—uhh…water breaking?Cirque du Soleil spectacle at the Bellagio in Las Vegas since it opened 16 years ago. “I tumbled competitively for Great Britain on the national team from the time I was a teenager.”

“But tumbling is not an Olympic sport, there’s not prize money or sponsorship money at stake. I was doing it to compete and represent my country.” For an athlete in a non-professional sport like tumbling, says Smith, Cirque du Soleil offers “the job of a lifetime.”

“While I was competing, I was doing any kind of odd job that would let me continue to train and travel to competitions. I answered phones, waited tables, anything that would help generate a little cash. But ultimately, when you’re a high-level amateur athlete, you’re probably going to have to retire and learn how to do something very different than what’s been the biggest focus of your life.”

When he was 23, at the suggestion of his coach, Smith went for an open Cirque audition in London. A year later, while at a competition in Russia, he got a phone call from his parents back in Birmingham, letting him know that he’d been invited to fly to Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal to participate in the creation of the show that ultimately became O.

Craig Paul Smith (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

Craig Paul Smith (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

And so, Craig Paul Smith ran off to join the circus.

“There was a real transition I had to go through,” recalls Smith, “in order to learn how to perform for the audience, not just for myself and my team. Competing as an athlete uses a very inward type of energy. I had to learn to project out and engage the audience in what I’m doing.”

Smith says this is a common challenge for gymnasts, swimmers, and other members of the Cirque corps who come from the world of athletics rather than having been trained in dance or circus arts. They also tend to discover a dramatic shift in life’s rhythms.

“As an athlete, you get very used to the idea of building up toward a competition over a length of time. You train and train and train, you peak at the competition, and then there’s a rest period. In Cirque, I have to peak ten times a week. Mentally, that’s tough.”

Another challenge for Smith was the fact that, even though his acrobatic routines in O take place on dry land and mid-air, he had to train and be certified in scuba diving along with the rest of the cast. “I’d never been much of a swimmer,” he admits. “The whole idea of putting myself underwater was a bit uncomfortable.”

Cirque du Soleil's "O" (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s “O” (photo: Cirque du Soleil via The Broadway Blog.)

The things one does for the job of a lifetime.

The third—and perhaps the least challenging—transition Smith made after joining Cirque was coming out as gay. He’d kept his sexuality secret from his parents and all but a few friends and teammates back in England. But the crucible of training seemed to boil everyone down to his or her core being.

“When I went into the creation process in Montreal, we worked extremely hard for ten to twelve hours a day. Many different languages are being spoken, but you become a very tight family very quickly. You’re all very dependent upon each other no matter how different you are, and you just don’t have the extra energy to be anyone but yourself.”

Cirque du Soleil’s O is currently playing at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Jim Gladstone is a San Francisco-based creative consultant and writer. A book columnist and Contributing Editor at PASSPORT, he is the author of an award-winning novel, The Big Book of Misunderstanding.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Show Folk, The Buzz Tags:

Review: Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna” Soars

April 15th, 2014 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler discovers the mystical world of  Amaluna.

Aerial Straps, "Amaluna" (photo: Cirque du Soleil) via The Broadway Blog.

Aerial Straps, “Amaluna” (photo: Cirque du Soleil) via The Broadway Blog.

By now, most of us are familiar with the Cirque du Soleil brand, one which combines circus acts with death-defying feats of acrobatics, aerial maneuvers, contortion and just about anything else you can dress up with body paint, sequins and feathers. Amaluna, the company’s latest concept to hit the road, incorporates the added value of Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus (Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess). This Cirque is one that celebrates a decidedly feminine energy and is centered on a mysterious island governed by Goddesses and guided by the cycles of their moon.

According to program notes, their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honors femininity, renewal, rebirth and balance, which marks the passing of these insights and values from one generation to the next.

Teetorboard, "Amaluna" (photo: Cirque du Soleil) via The Broadway Blog.

Teetorboard, “Amaluna” (photo: Cirque du Soleil) via The Broadway Blog.

In the wake of a storm caused by Prospera, a group of young men lands on the island, triggering an epic, emotional story of love between Prospera’s daughter and a brave young suitor. But theirs is a love that will be put to the test. The couple must face numerous demanding trials and overcome daunting setbacks before they can achieve mutual trust, faith and harmony.

At the end of the journey, I can’t say that I absorbed much of that, save the “numerous demanding trials” that take the form acts including uneven bars, teeter boards, aerial straps and more. But worth the ticket price alone is an act that transcends Cirque’s flashy costumes and palpitating maneuvers.  Executed by Lili Chao, it is simply called “Balance Goddess” and had the audience enraptured in its rhythmic beauty.

Balance Goddess (photo: Cirque du Soleil) via The Broadway Blog.

Balance Goddess (photo: Cirque du Soleil) via The Broadway Blog.

As the lights come up, Chao is centered in the middle of what appears to be a life-size game of pick-up sticks, except that the pieces slightly resemble a whale skeleton. One at a time, she slowly stacks the sticks crosswise upon each other, balancing the growing structure as she methodically rotates 360 degrees. Chao, outfitted with a body mic, deeply breathes throughout the ritual, adding dimension and strength. By the end of the piece, she is miraculously balancing an entire skeletal structure, and in one swift movement, its entirety gently cascades upon itself into a heap.

What comes before and after is Cirque-licious, packed with an international cast of gorgeous bodies, equally as mystical costumes, and an all-female band that echoes Heart, Pat Benatar and smidge of Celtic Woman. For those who have ventured to Las Vegas to see Cirque’s resident shows that take advantage of hydraulic lifts, aquatic stages and other 21st century gadgetry, consider returning to the Big Top, where Amaluna will carry you away to parts unknown.

Amaluna
CitiField
Through May 18

Want to see more? Take the leap!

Read more…

Interview: Joe Putignano, Author of “Acrobaddict”

December 3rd, 2013 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler interviews author and acrobat Joe Putignano. 

Author Joe Putignano (photo: Mike Ruiz)

Author Joe Putignano (photo: Mike Ruiz)

After seeing a Broadway show, you may find yourself reading performer biographies and dreaming of lives filled with standing ovations and bright lights. But what you don’t realize is that their lives are filled with the same kinds of trials and tribulations as our own. In Acrobaddict, Joe Putignano’s new gripping memoir about his battle with heroin, the Cirque du Soleil and Broadway performer recounts his love for gymnastics and his slow descent into addiction and subsequent sobriety.

Tumbling around his living room from the time he was a small child, Putignano says that he was born with a natural ability. “It’s like a musician hearing their instrument for the first time. I knew the first time I saw it on TV I knew this was it. It’s exactly what dancers say, a fire inside of me. As if I was doing it in a past life.” But his love for gymnastics was also tethered to the stigma of participating in a sport not identified as masculine in his Boston neighborhood. “The teenage mind and social system is an atom bomb wrapped in denim and designer clothes,” he writes, “drenched in perfume and cologne, and steered by an intellect that thinks it knows everything.”

Putignano’s passion turned to obsession—one that he feels he was born with and that parallels his addiction. But he is quick to point the difference: “Passion is creative and inspires others and brings unity. Obsession destroys.”

bookcoverHis exploration with alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and marijuana eventually led to heroin use and a suicide attempt that nearly killed him. He writes, “I wanted my soul to rocket through my skin and stain the floor where I once lived and breathed, to forever nark my pain, regret, shame and anger.”

Putignano also had to face his homosexuality and a romantic obsession with a fellow addict whom he eventually disassociated with in order to save both their lives. After attempts at recovery and relapses, he found himself in New York City, which he describes as “being trapped in a nonstop fashion show of sex, pride, prestige and power. Gorgeous people, too busy to appreciate each other’s beauty…”

Putignano eventually landed a job at The New York Times in an administrative position as he continued to face his demons and regain his strength. He was hired as an acrobat in Puccini’s Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera House and then again for Samson & Delilah. He not only stretched himself to overcome his addiction, but was literally stretching himself to explore the world of contortionism as an addendum to his gymnastics ability.

Take the jump to read about Putignano’s experience on Broadway and with Cirque du Soleil.

Read more…