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Joyful Physicality

Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic Alegría arrives at Agganis

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Cirque du Soleil will perform eight shows of Alegría at Boston University’s Agganis Arena beginning tonight.

Although alegría is the Spanish word for joy, Cirque du Soleil’s eye-popping circus revue of that name, which lands tonight at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, is not so much a story of jubilance as a sinister examination of the abuse of power and the struggle for freedom. The tale invokes generational views on religion and politics and can be interpreted as progressive ideas nudging out old traditions. But the show’s abstract plot doesn’t distract from the gravity-defying acts that define every Cirque du Soleil performance.

Since its Montreal debut in 1994, Alegría has toured more than 200 cities worldwide. Featuring 55 performers and musicians from 17 countries, the show presents an astonishing physical range, from dance, acrobatics, and contortion to tumbling, trapeze, and Russian bars.

While other Cirque shows use technology and special effects, Alegría sticks with old-fashioned big-top circus routines. Aerialists soar more than 40 feet to catch partners in midflight, while jugglers twirl batons of fire to the pulsing rhythms of Congo drums. As Mongolian acrobats twist, bend, and stretch into pretzel-like contortions, gymnasts perform bungee-cord dance acts that seem to invite whiplash.

A dreamlike score, written by René Dupéré, moves between jazz, pop, tango, and klezmer. The album, nominated for a Grammy in 1995, has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide. A trailer of Alegría is available here.

Alegría opens tonight, Wednesday, August 26, at 8 p.m. at Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., and runs through Sunday, August 30. Times vary (some matinees and some evening performances); check here for the complete schedule. Tickets range from $45 to $95 and may be purchased online or by calling 1-800-745-3000. For more information, call 617-358-7000.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.

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