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Cirque Eloize comes to Memorial Hall

There are thousands of ways to explore identity.

Cirque Eloize does it extravagantly.

The Montreal-based contemporary circus combines urban dance, theatrics and stunts in “iD,” which will be performed tonight and Wednesday night at Memorial Hall.

Richard Maguire, a gymnast who is performing with Cirque Eloize, said the show tells the story of two rival gangs in the city.

“They use circus to express themselves and ultimately resolve their problems,” Maguire said.

The story of “iD” has been compared to the 1957 musical “West Side Story,” but the performance is more centered on circus-style stunts.

Sean McKeithan, marketing and communications coordinator for Carolina Performing Arts, said Cirque Eloize is a departure from traditional American circus.

“They have a beautiful aesthetic,” McKeithan said. “They have a signature mix of human poetry, physical feats and playful energy. It’s a mixture of theater and music and gorgeous staging with a new circus tradition.”

“iD” is an exploration in identity and public space in a mediated world, McKeithan said.

“It’s not a narrative work that has a plot — beginning, middle, end,” he said.

In 2007, Cirque Eloize performed “Rain” at Memorial Hall.

Water restrictions enforced because of an area drought called for the group to import their own water from Canada to put on the rain-heavy production.

Michelle Bordner, director of artist relations for Carolina Performing Arts, said the success of “Rain” made them want to bring Cirque Eloize back to Memorial Hall.

“(‘Rain’) created a sort of buzz around campus, so we’re glad to have them back with ‘iD,’” Bordner said.

Cirque Eloize is known for its stunt-heavy performances.

Maguire described a moment when performers jump from a wall, land on a trampoline and then propel themselves back up to the wall.

“This wall has a lot of surprises and goodies in it that make it quite thrilling and also incredibly dangerous to perform,” Maguire said.

“It’s definitely a show-stopper kind of act.”

Maguire said that the show is full of energy from start to finish.

“This show is pretty explosive,” he said.

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