Tuesday evening, the storm’s on its way ... metro, tram, the Parilly-University stop, 10 minutes’ walk… and I’m in the Cirque Plume Big Top.
In the stands: children and their parents; in the ring, a demijohn of water, which is trembling, and a suspended piano.
As each minute passes, a feather falls on the piano, and makes it lose another few centimetres ... until it reaches the ground, and the show begins.
A 1 hour 40 minute performance: a poetic, funny, physical and very moving interlude, during which the storm rumbled overhead, and gallons of rain beat down on the canvas of the Big Top.
Cirque Plume is first of all incredibly versatile artistes : the acrobats know how to play musical instruments, and the clowns are all athletes.
There are also breathtaking performances and original musical compositions which, taken together, warm the heart and set the toes tapping.
So far as acrobatics are concerned, the trapeze artiste starts the show. She takes to the heights after a few flamenco steps, swings, lets go, becomes as light as air when her dress spins. Thunder outside, thunderous applause inside.
The hand balancer is impressive with her strength and grace: she turns daintily on her poles, and makes fun of gravity. A new storm of applause.
The tightrope walker jumps, runs backwards, does the splits ... we’re astonished, then we’re drawn in by the music; we clap our hands and forget about the wire. Our hands are tingling, but we clap all the same.
As for the acrobat on the vertical pole, she’s amazing, she seems weightless, as light as a bubble - to the point where we forget the strength she needs to have to perform on the pole ... We applaud like mad.
Between these performances, there are tableaux and still lifes ... and the clowns. Clowns who make the children laugh those lovely little chuckles, artless and communicative; clowns who make the adults laugh; clowns pretending to be clumsy, who are really strong and skilful dissemblers.
And between those performances, flying musicians, Chinese shadows as beautiful as the dawn, drapes which float, which inflate, which soothe!
And as a finale, the dance of the hanging demijohns, transparent and luminous, who display real choreography: two rows which change places in a swinging movement, then which undulate like a Chinese dragon, crossing and re-crossing like animated chromosomes. We’re hypnotised, and we come out enchanted - even if the ground is soaked and we have to walk in the dusk to catch the tram.