A Chronicle assignment to preview the new Cirque du Soleil show provided a perfect opportunity to plug Grace Cathedral, where I am a member:

“Daniele Finzi Pasca has never been to Grace Cathedral, at the top of Nob Hill, but he knows one of its most resonant symbols well.

In the courtyard outside the church, and also replicated inside beneath the soaring arches of its main nave, is a circle that looks like a maze. The difference is, there are no wrong turns. You wind along the curving path, letting your mind settle as you turn; you reach the center and meditate; you follow the road back out, certain that it cannot lead you astray.

The circle is a labyrinth, an exact copy of one installed in France’s Chartres Cathedral in the 13th century. And now, thanks to Pasca, it is the heart of Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, “Corteo,” which opens in San Francisco on Friday.

“It is important not to explain too much,” said Pasca, who as the creator and director of Cirque’s latest spectacle insisted that the labyrinth be reproduced faithfully beneath the big top. “You can have an outward structural form and an inward secret beauty. If someone wants to examine it up close, they’ll look deeper.”

The spiritual mystery of the labyrinth permeates “Corteo,” which marks a striking departure for Montreal’s successful cirque nouveau franchise. “Corteo” means “cortege,” or “joyous procession,” and the show tells the story of a dead clown who watches his own funeral parade through his imagination.

This is not the fantasyland of Cirque’s 14 previous shows (four in residence in Las Vegas), but more like an intensified reality. Instead of the surreal, Technicolor forest of, say, Cirque’s “Varekai,” “Corteo” has the shabby-chic decor of an Anthropologie catalog. Instead of exotic lizards and nymphs, the characters are real people. ”

The show got a good review today in the Chron. Click here to read my full piece.

1 Comment

  • Roger Hewett Posted November 24, 2005 10:50 am

    Hi Rachel,

    I just stumbled upon your site. I was really happy to see your article about Corteo (Cirque du Soleil) and was particularly fascinated by the connection with Grace Cathedral, whose site I also just visited. I must confess I wasn’t aware of the one in Grace Cathedral and will definately take a trip there to look at the labyrinth, which looks so amazingly familiar.

    Thanks for the tip. It is a real pleasure working here in San Francisco.

    Roger Hewett
    Corteo-bandleader
    North American Tour

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