Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo –Enchanting Insects Take Flight

Those of us who are fascinated by insects normally have to bring these small amazing animals into close perspective to get a good look. However, when I recently saw Cirque du Soleil’s show Ovo the opposite happened – many of the “insects” were bigger than me and I was effortlessly drawn into their world of wonder.
Performer costumes, make-up and movement are fanciful inspirations based on insect and spider shapes, colors and behaviors. Even with abundant artistic license, there’s enough detail so even casual insect-watchers know who’s who: red ants, green crickets, scarab beetles, butterflies and more, a seemingly endless diversity rivaling that actually found in Mother Nature. A continuing sketch includes a flirtatious ladybug and her amorous suitor resembling a wingless housefly who, in character with the adage “breeding like flies,” was enthusiastically procreative.

The performance is, of course, circus-based, but care has been taken to make all the characters’ movements resemble those of actual creatures: fleas jump to amazing heights, a butterfly undulates her way from a chrysalis, spiders race and twirl through their webs and an hapless cricket gets stuck! At one point, the crickets spring smoothly up and down a 26 foot tall wall. The closest I’ve seen to this has been in martial arts movies and they use wires and rigging — these crickets merely leap! (Yes, OK, a trampoline is involved to create these “organic special effects”).

I could go on and on about the wondrous acts in this show but it truly needs to be experienced first hand, even if you’ve attended other Cirque productions. Ovo show and ticket information.

Randy Morgan is Curator of Invertebrates, Reptiles & Amphibians at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.