It is on our minds this week, because Totem is producing a farewell video to send to the show, with all of our company members singing the song "Alegria". This is something of a tradition at Cirque - whenever a show opens or closes, the other shows produce videos of iconic songs or dances in the production, their own little tributes. The kids have also gotten in on this one, learning the song (a bit), enough to make their own video:
Four of the children in this video were born on tour with Alegria.
It's given me a moment to reflect on Alegria. I remember seeing the show, in the mid-1990s, in New York. It was the second Cirque show I'd seen - Saltimbanco was the first - and so I was somewhat prepared to be amazed. Alegria didn't disappoint. It was otherworldly. Its magic swept me completely off my feet, leaving me speechless and teary. I can still feel it when I hear the music.
At some point along this Totem tour, it dawned on me that a number of my tourmates were part of that magic. The Russian bar artists were in Alegria from the very beginning. They were younger, more nervous and edgy, in America for the first time, and they were treated like royalty. By all accounts, that era of Cirque touring was luxurious - the best lodging, the finest amenities. The artists were celebrities, and their families shared the glow.
The Russian bar wives, who I spend a lot of my time with, get wistful and dreamy when they talk about that time period. I remember Nastia, one day when an Alegria DVD was drifting around, saying with fondness, "да, это наш Алегрия." Yes, that's our Alegria. It was theirs, their world that I came into that day in New York, never guessing that I would be living with these people 16 years later.
I wonder if everyone feels this way about Alegria - a slight possessiveness. I know I do. That night (my Alegria) was part of a big change in my life, a time of discovering my true passion. The lyrics of this song articulated something very deep inside me; I suppose I thought I was alone in this, but clearly the hundreds of thousands of people who have appreciated Alegria have had their own powerful connections to it.
Alegria had a long life, its beauty fading only a little in the later, arena years - and I hope it has a glorious sendoff.