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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Cirque du Soleil produces sold-out performances worldwide on a nightly basis. They are a global circus featuring bodies from almost every continent and many nationalities, and it is universally acknowledged that the nouveau circus troupe’s performers seem to defy gravity and bodily physics. Musical otherness—here another extraordinary, multiplicitous body—comingles with bodily otherness in Cirque du Soleil’s productions, which intersect with turn-of-the-century side shows and freak shows. From cleaned-up hip-hop tracks to countertenors (La Nouba, 1999), and Tuvan throat singers to Bulgarian chorus (Worlds Away, 2012), the Cirque delivers a soundtrack so unrecognizable to the listener that the audience is normalized via the universal estranging effect of the music. Cirque du Soleil’s support of emergent artists such as freak show photographer Wayne Schoenfeld further reinforces the circus’s concrete practice of freakery in a visual context.

Keywords: disability, gender, nation, sideshow, circus, hip-hop, film, acrobatics, normalcy, countertenor

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