During most hours of the day, it’s not an easy feat biking by the crowded area in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Take away one bike wheel and add a person standing on your shoulders, and the challenge becomes much more difficult.
On Tuesday, Cirque du Soleil performers Philippe Belanger and Marie-Lee Guilbert brought out their unicycle for a free, 10-minute performance that made this undertaking look easy. Cruising around on one wheel, Belanger balanced an often upside-down Guilbert who performed an array of tricks overhead, drawing a small crowd to form around them.
Beyond the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the two Canadians ventured to three other iconic city landmarks (LOVE Park, City Hall, and Independence National Historical Park), delivering short shows at every spot. The public display was designed in preview of their upcoming Cirque du Soleil show, VOLTA, which swings through the area July 12 and runs through August 5 at the Big Top next to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
“Beyond maintaining balance, you have to keep a conversation flowing with the audience,” says Belanger, who notes that performing outside also brings the added challenge of different surface textures. “It’s like ping pong — when people react and smile, you work off of that.”