Ashley, Amber and Alyssa naughty!? No presents under the tree?!

by Bingle on Dec.20, 2009, under Karen Bingle, Richard Bingle Family

Okay, so maybe that isn’t why there weren’t presents under the tree for them. This year the girls (and Rich and I too) received a Christmas surprise. It was a surprise for the girls because it happened exactly a week before Christmas and they didn’t know about it and hadn’t really figured it out as we meandered aimlessly around Downtown Disney looking for “dinner.” I received the surprise the week before when Rich called the house planning his scheme, having found a Florida resident discount and wanting to know when we might fit it into our December schedule. And Rich received the surprise because it was a family thing to do together, even if he knew about it already. So the surprise was…front row seats to see a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney!

La Nouba

Ashley suspected that we were doing something at Downtown Disney, being aware of our surroundings as we drove there. Amber thought that we might be going to Cirque du Soleil when she saw it as we parked in the parking lot, even though Rich passed it as we walked from the van, heading on towards House of Blues and some semblance of “dinner,” then doubling back to the real destination. Alyssa nicely stayed oblivious and non-assuming, she said it was because we were in a crowd of people and she really couldn’t see, until the gentleman letting down the chain barring the entrance announced “Welcome to Cirque du Soleil!”

Rich was pleased that we were able to get front row seats on the right side of the stage in the lowest section, eliminating the concern that Alyssa, or any of us for that matter, would have someone in front of us obstructing our view. After arriving and taking in our surroundings he was relieved to discover that the stage itself, which most of us could reach with an extended foot, would not make it difficult to see. We were also pleased with the added leg-room. It did present us with a few unique experiences, which I plan to mention when I explain the particular parts of the show. Since you are not allowed to take pictures (something that the usher had to tell the people behind us a couple of times) I found some pictures from the web to illustrate.

The pre-show began at 5:42 when two clowns came out into the walkway, where people were trying to find their seats, carrying a pile of medium sized colored boxes on top of something the size of a large door stretcher fashion between them as the one who made noises to communicate, while the other relied strictly on gestures and facial expressions, whistled like a truck beeping when it backs up. They played with the audience in usual clown fashion: giving someone’s glasses to someone else to protect their eyes from the glare of a bald head; borrowing a camera to take a picture of the camera owner and their friend and continuing to use the camera to take pictures of strangers, a very close-up of the hair on someone’s head, and oops the clowns feet before returning it; piling boxes high upon someone’s lap (much to the alarm of the toddler and toddler’s parents sitting directly in front of the precarious pile); trying to help a couple find their seats, which apparently were on the stage; and finally going back stage with the boxes that got dumped on the stage and needed restacking.


They appeared throughout the rest of the show and had three more acts in which they were the main focus: as astronauts walking on moon with pick axes; as a cowboy and indian; and a mother with and infant in an over-sized baby carriage.

A set of four other performers come out and pretend they are going to play some kind of music. Not receiving enough acknowledgement they leave pretending to be offended, returning with their own entertainment throughout the show as the feature of attention and elsewhere like all the “clown” acts.


After that came our problem of not knowing where to look or when…

The show started with a parade of some of the performers. They came out of a door behind our section spaced a few feet and a few seconds apart, but then they would all be doing their own unique things as they proceeded around the walkway to the door opposite us and disappear. It required a bit of twisting in your seat and the musicians were in the side pillars of the stage which you could occasionally catch a glimpse of. The vocalists changed their location with each act of the show. There were also performers traveling above the ground along the back wall on bicycles, benches, ropes or floating.

Next a cleaning lady, clown, came out followed by what Rich called “mass chaos,” which included most of the performers in the show marching around which chased her off the front of the stage to watch for a while with the crowd (her most memorable part later was when she had to revive the so small as to be invisible frog prince after stepping on him in her excitement and anticipation of kissing him). There was rapid precision marching, synchronized dancing and things to look at all over. They came close to the edge of the stage and gave us our first glimpse of how close we really were.

The first act were some tight-rope walkers. The tight-rope walkers started with a climb up a slanted rope by the man. Then the female walked the length of the horizontal rope (which we almost missed because she started before he had finished). Followed by the male crossing on a bicycle, then returning with the female standing on the male’s shoulders as he walked, the male walked backwards quickly far enough out so that there was room for him to do a flip while still holding his balancing pole and ending with him walking across while she did a one-handed handstand on his head.


The “German wheels” came close to the edge of the stage too and I kept thinking how easy it would be to have the wheels roll where you might not want them to.


The crowd’s obvious favorite was the “Diabolo Girls” cute and never appearing to make any kind of mistake. Though smiling they seemed not really happy, but that was probably due to intense concentration.


The BMX trick bicyclists used a combination of squeaking of the brakes, speed, bright spotlights and surprise to scare us all as they came to a sudden stop right in front of us, most directly in front of Alyssa. We checked the skid marks in the light after the show, though we did not measure how close to the edge it was, I estimate it now to be not more than 2 inches from the edge.


Another main clown was what we called the bird lady. We were not sure about her but it seemed as if she would imitate many of the acts in her own way. She also seems to be a main point of advertisement as I looked for Cirque du Soleil pictures.


Next, two people performed hanging from bars and each other in various ways in an oversized picture type frame that rose up in the air, while ballerinas danced below to give them a chance for a brief rest.


The next act was a main silk scarf aerialist with four sidekicks. Near the beginning of her act she flies in a circle and swoops over the crowd in a breathtaking moment, since this is the only act that there is no safety wires or net, the end of the scarf billows out behind her as she has twisted herself far from the very end. It is at this point that I am concerned that one of us is going to get swapped in the head or something since we are so close. The spotlight shines in our eyes as she goes by and it appears to me, that we are all in the clear and what I was worried about was not allowed to happen. I found out after the show that, though everyone’s head had been alright like I thought, Rich’s shoe had been momentarily caught by the “scarf,” which is actually weighted or at least pretty heavy. He had had his foot up in a comfortable position in our luxury legroom and had been caught, thankfully only briefly. He hoped he had not impeded her progress in anyway and was very careful with his feet for the remainder of that act.

The next act was a guy trying to light a chandelier that was always out of his reach as he balanced on items higher and higher in the air on the table on the platform that also rose up out of the stage.


Then there was the trapeze act that had the performers and their platform directly above us, on the other side of the safety net.

The last act was the trampoline people. Most of the trampolines were located within the stage, others were located near the “building” that they walked up, climbed in and out of the windows of and reached and landed on top of by what seemed like the slimmest margin with very precisely calculated bouncing.


The performers all appeared for the final parade and final applause and it was done at 7:37. A nice time was had by all, even with the scary moments included.

I hope as we all enjoy our undeserved surprises that we are thankful for the best one ever, Jesus!


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