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Cirque Du Soleil Presents Pittsburgh Premiere Of 'Corteo'

Cirque du Soleil debuted as a troupe here in 2002, with “Quidam,” and it has been visiting Pittsburgh about annually since. This week, though, Cirque is back with an older show never seen here before.

Cirque du Soleil performs "Corteo," Wed., Jan. 16-Sun., Jan. 20. PPG Paints Arena, Uptown.

“Corteo,” a circus spectacle loosely premised as a parade imagined by clown, premiered in 2005, as a Grand Chapiteau (“big top”) production. But it was adapted into a touring arena production only last year. “Corteo” features 52 performers from 18 countries and has been performed on four continents. It hits Pittsburgh with seven performances starting Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena.

Cirque du Soleil, based in Montreal, has been an international phenomenon for decades. The company draws on talent from around the world for its shows combining acrobatics, clowning, surreal imagery, outlandish costumes and live original music.

“Corteo” translates as “cortege,” or “procession.” The clown at the center of the show is actually imagining his own funeral, but expect the tone to be more celebratory than somber. The two-hour show’s 16 acts include acrobats working a giant seesaw and a performer doing a dance while borne aloft by oversized helium balloons. (Watch a video preview here.)

Santé Fortunato, a dancer and aerialist who’s a veteran of “Corteo,” says that in some ways it’s not as fanciful as other Cirque productions you might have seen, in which some performers portray non-human characters. “This one’s a lot more human. We’re not bugs or anything,” she says. “It’s a joyous procession of a clown. It’s a really special show. It’s a lot of fun, and [there are] also touching moments and poetic moments in the show as well.”

Fortunato, a native of Vancouver, B.C., performs two acts. In one, she’s one of four aerialist performing on on three giant chandeliers suspended from the ceiling. “It’s like a dance in the air, is the best way I can describe it,” she says. In another act, Fortunate spins multiple Hula Hoops at once on multiple body parts.

She also describes one of show’s other playful acts, in which acrobats perform on trampolines disguised as beds. “[It’s] just like every kid’s dream, you know, you go home and you jump on your bed, and you have fun, you have a pillow fight,” she says. “And it’s exactly trying to recreate that little child in everyone.”

“Corteo” has seven performances here Wednesday night through Sunday.

Ticket information is here.