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Steel Shots: Serious Anchorage
Posted by Tom Klemens on August 19, 2011 at 9:17 AM.


Anchor plate for one of the numerous cables supporting the Cirque du Soleil’s Grand Chapiteau at the United Center, Chicago. Nobody shows up to look at this, even though that’s what it’s all about - balancing tension and compression, friction and the lack thereof. (Click on the photo to see the anchor plate from a different angle with more context.)



Outside the signature yellow and blue-spiraled Cirque du Soleil tent, it’s all about tension. Witness the hefty stakes and substantial braced plates supplying the anchorage for steel cables supporting the multi-turreted circus tent. Inside, it’s climate-controlled darkness, whisking attendees into a land of fantastic characters, amazing feats of strength, and displays of artistry in motion, all accompanied by ethereal live music.


As the Montreal-based organization has reinvented and elevated the art of the circus over the past two decades, so has it raised the bar for circus tents as well. Its self-contained venue wraps up its summer Chicago encampment this weekend where, since late June, performers have been delighting crowds with “Ovo,” one of Cirque du Soleil’s several touring shows. Next stop: Calgary, opening September 7, then on to Mexico City and Santa Monica, Calif.



 By the way, it takes about 400 of the 5-ft-long stakes to hold up the structure. For more information, including some interesting statistics and a cool video, go to
. Watching the 54-second video of raising the big top isn’t nearly as exciting as the show, but it’s still worth a look. And the show is definitely worth seeing.

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