Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cirque du Soliel's Crystal delights with acrobatics and ice dancing in equal measure

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 11:14 AM

  • Matt Beard, 2017
The Jan. 31 opening of Cirque du Soleil: Crystal presented a cast of impressive acrobats, dancers, clowns, jugglers and figure skaters, and it’s safe to say they knocked another Cirque out of the park.

And yes, I said "figure skaters." Crystal shines as the first Cirque experience on ice, which makes for a diverse, high-stakes performance.

Though I have a personal love of figure skating, I seldom buy into the hype of “on ice” experiences, as they can come across as gimmicky. Cirque circumvented that trap through a variety of acts and heartfelt characters that didn’t sacrifice any of the acrobatic flair we expect coming in.

The story follows a young girl named Crystal, who delves into a surreal dreamscape in order to find herself — sometimes literally. The moment in which she encounters her mirror counterpart, they launch into a gorgeous paired dance, and things just get stranger from there, as they tend to do in Cirque du Soleil.

  • Matt Beard, 2017
Colorfully costumed dancers portray Crystal’s schoolmates, or the uniformed businesspeople she’s supposed to grow up to become. They skate in synchronized brilliance, sometimes breaking away to perform flips, spins and loops that dazzle as much as any standard figure skating program. But without being bound by the rules of the ISU (International Skating Union), these skaters blend diverse styles of dance and acrobatics into their skating to great effect. I nearly rose out of my seat at the first set of backflips, an impressive trick that Olympians and their ilk are sadly (but understandably) forbidden from performing.

Don’t think Crystal is all skating, though. Audiences can still expect intense acrobatics — straps, trapeze and contortion among the techniques. During a particularly terrifying performance involving a tower of chairs and a talented contortionist, my companion gripped my arm and hissed: “Where is that boy’s mother?” — a sentiment I found myself echoing after each death-defying stunt. Somehow, with blades strapped to performers’ feet, already-wild Cirque acts get a little scarier for those watching.

I most appreciated Crystal, however, for the performers who displayed diverse and specific talents. The clarinetist, a phenomenal musician, skated along with the physical performers during multiple scenes; and the clown — a staple of all cirque shows — was clearly an accomplished enough skater to fake being bad at it. He stumbled and fumbled his way around the ice, yet delivered on the moments he needed to shine — flying up ramps, for instance.

Crystal provides another exciting, heart-stopping Cirque experience, a playground for the senses that overwhelms as often as it delights. Need some more evidence? Check out the photos below, or see it yourself nightly through Feb. 4 at the Broadmoor World Arena.

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Local and regional events honor Black History Month this February

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Denver first lady Mary Louise Louis will speak at CSU-Pueblo's dinner dialogue event. - COURTESY CSU-PUEBLO
  • Courtesy CSU-Pueblo
  • Denver first lady Mary Louise Louis will speak at CSU-Pueblo's dinner dialogue event.
In February, the nation celebrates Black History Month, which deserves recognition beyond the few lessons taught in schools and the few Facebook posts that might circulate your feed for the next 28 days.

In order to adequately honor local, national and international black heroes, consider joining the community for various Black History Month events held throughout the region. There’s something for every taste, from lectures to film screenings to open mic nights. Check out a list of events below:

Black History Dinner Dialogue, with a speech by Denver's first lady, Mary Louise Lee, who will address racism and discrimination in 2018. Thurs., Feb. 1, 5 p.m. CSU-Pueblo's General Classroom Building, 2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo, 719/549-2365,

Celebration of Black History Month, a group presentation about black history, appropriate for all ages. Meet in the conference room at Grant Library, Fort Carson. Sat., Feb. 3, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fort Carson, 6001 Wetzel Ave, Fort Carson, CO, 526-2350,

BHM Cultural Movie Night: Show Me Democracy, a screening of this film, which documents the efforts of the Scholarship Foundation's Education Policy Internship Program, which empowers students to research education policy issues that affect them. Wed., Feb. 7, 3 p.m. CSU-Pueblo's Occhiato University Center, 2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo, 719/549-2161,

Colorado Black Voices Matter: Black History Celebration, with a workshop by poet Ashley Cornelius, an open mic for black performers, and a feature performance by Rosenna "Rogue Scholar" Bakari and Marlon "The Gift" Powe. Fri., Feb. 9, 7-10 p.m. The Gallery Below, 718B N. Weber St., 347/961-4789,

3rd Annual Celebration of Black History, with the theme: “African Americans in Times of War,” which commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918, exploring its struggle and aftermath. Program includes music, poetry, dance, spoken word and more. Sat., Feb. 10, 4 p.m. UCCS University Center, 1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy.,

Black History Month: Art It Up, an opportunity to create a piece of artwork inspired by quotes from Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and other famous African American figures. Thurs., Feb. 15, noon to 3 p.m. CSU-Pueblo's Occhiato University Center, 2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo, 719/549-2161,

5th Annual Black History Program, an annual multi-cultural program, presented by OneBody Ent. Enjoy performances by The ReMINDers, Kayla Rae and Tony Exum Jr. Sat., Feb. 24, 2-4 p.m. The Gold Room, 18 S. Nevada Ave., 634-4653,

Salute to George Washington Carver for Black History Month, honoring the most famous botanist of the first half of the 20th Century, “The Peanut Man." Hear how a former slave reversed generations of ruinous farming practices. Wed., Feb. 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free Event. Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive, 347-1714,,

Black History Month Game Night, an opportunity to test your knowledge in a game of Jeopardy full of questions for Black History Month. Wed., Feb. 28, 4 p.m. CSU-Pueblo's Occhiato University Center, 2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo, 719/549-2161,

Are we missing any? Use our online form to submit your event.

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