Cirque du Soleil - Fire Within (2004)
This addictive, Emmy Award-winning series has all the human turmoil of reality television, but the subjects have actual talent--it's a 13-part documentary about the young acrobats of Cirque du Soleil, watching them struggle with the physical rigors and emotional demands of creating a new show (the acclaimed Varekai). Fire Within focuses on eight performers, among them Gareth, a temperamental Brit whose sculpted physique features multiple tattoos; Stella, a young African American trapeze artist who's a bit of a diva; Oleg, a 35-year-old Russian circus professional trying to shift his talents to dance; Olga, a Cirque veteran as a contortionist, being given a starring role in this new show. Skillfully edited, Fire Within follows the performers along the stressful path from auditions to opening. The show gains surprisingly intimate access into their lives, capturing the strength and vulnerability of people whose bodies are their art--and not everyone rises to the challenges they face. The process of making a show like Varekai isn't always pretty or gentle; if an act isn't working--such as when Gareth and his acrobatic partner Ashley have trouble finding their balance for a piece called the Icarian Games--the act will simply be cut, and the performer fired. Fire Within is a remarkable warts-and-all document of frustration and ingenuity. After each episode, you'll eagerly jump to the next one to learn what happens next. --Bret Fetzer … More
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