The circus experience sparks a child’s imagination, delighting the senses with sound, light, illusion and magic. Cirque du Soleil boldly goes beyond all expectations, showcasing remarkable agility and talent like no other spectacle of its kind.  The latest installment under its trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau at Santa Monica Pier, ‘Ovo,’ is one of their most fanciful yet family-friendly stories to date: transforming the exotic world of tiny insects into larger than life characters.  The 25th production of Cirque du Soleil, ‘Ovo’ employs 55 performing artists from 14 countries, demonstrating feats of unparalleled balance, agility and strength.

Budding entomologists and awestruck arachnophobes alike will be wrapped up in the colorful tale of this lively community of creatures.  In their midst is a lonely, yet effervescent Ladybug looking for something wonderful, like love, to change her life. The Foreigner, a gawky blue fly full of bravado, arrives with a mysterious egg on his back and catches her eye.  The insects’ curiosity – and ours – is piqued, as the narrative delves into the wonders of the life cycle.

A flurry of dance and acrobatics abound in the vibrantly costumed insects’ dynamic world, swarming with beauty.  Bright red ants juggle giant pieces of corn and kiwi – the day’s nutrition – with their feet.  Butterflies perform a combination of contortion, hand-to-hand and ballet in a graceful pas de deux with a rope.  Fleas fling themselves into precision-balanced sculptural formations.  Central to the action are a group of lively Crickets, who become entranced by a Spider weaving her body in and around her intricate web.

At its climax, ‘Ovo’ presents a stunning aerial trapeze act, the biggest of its kind ever mounted by the Cirque, combining disciplines of banquine, Russian swing and swinging chair.  The spectacular finale will further captivate slack-jawed kiddies, as 20 artists leap from trampolines to the nearly 25-foot climbing wall that serves as the show’s backdrop.

Punctuating the acts is Master Flipo, a wise while eccentric leader of the insect population.  Well-liked and respected, Master Flipo is sometimes silly, as a circus clown is apt to be.  Watch for him to romantically set up The Foreigner with various audience members.

“Ovo’ is performing at Santa Monica Pier until March 18, Tuesday through Sunday, with kid-friendly matinees on weekends; check the website for exact times. Click here to purchase tickets.  

Additional performances from March 21 -25 will benefit 7 Days for a Better World, an awareness program conceived by Cirque du Soleil in support of the ONE DROP Foundation; $5 of each ticket sale to these performances will be donated to ONE DROP, which aims to fight poverty by providing access to clean water.

Insider Tips:
-The show appeals to children of all ages, though fidgety toddlers may find it challenging to sit for an extended period.   If that happens, there’s a whole ’village’ of tents to explore with information about other Cirque du Soleil shows and a cool souvenir stand with everything from t-shirts and CDs of original show music to ‘Ovo’ maracas and masks.

-Parking on the Santa Monica Pier ranges from $6-8 depending upon the day of the week.  Parking is also available at municipal structures on 2nd and 4th streets, with 2 hours free before 6 pm.

-Running time is approximately 2 hours, with a break midway for 30 minutes.

-Order and prepay for snacks in advance on the website, so they’ll be ready for pick up at intermission.

-Lighting and sound changes dramatically during the show, so prepare sensitive ears and eyes for what’s expected. The little ones will be glad and duly amused.

— Kim Orchen Cooper