Kdo!, or how Franco Dragone’s gift turns out to be a disappointing one

Don’t panic. I’m not planning to go and explore the world of musicals and circus as well, all of a sudden. But as I’m in a festive mood, just being back from a short holiday, and because I was curious to see how Franco Dragone (ex-Cirque Du Soleil) would incorporate young dancers from choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s school P.A.R.T.S. into his new show, I did find myself amongst those watching the premiere of Kdo!, at Vorst Nationaal/Forest National (Brussels). A rather unsatisfying experience.

The world knows Franco Dragone as the man who created legendary shows such as Alegria, Saltimbanco and Quidam for Cirque Du Soleil. He’s the director of Céline Dion’s Las Vegas-show and he is preparing a new extravaganza for Macau, China. Since a couple of years he has based his headquarters in the Belgian town of La Louvière. Throughout the years one thing has kept on bothering him: why isn’t Brussels having a special Christmas spectacular? So he decided to create a show of his own: Kdo! (pronounce: cadeau; gift). He wants it to run every year during the festive season.

Let me start with the good news: those 15 young dancers from P.A.R.T.S. really did well. I was afraid that their dancing wouldn’t fit in, but it did, as a matter of fact. Too bad that for one of their pieces they had to dance to a clumsy and awful video film, during which the audience all of a sudden had to be reminded of all the wars going on in this world.

The bad news? Kdo! is what I feared it would be: just a collection of circus acts, tied together with a nice ribbon, courtesy of Franco Dragone. Of course it’s impressive to have huge video screens with wonderful images and nice animation films, but just an array of circus acts and all that technical wizardry doesn’t make for a good show. As a matter of fact: what amazed me the most, were the technical flaws. Mistakes that you’d think people who are used to creating shows for the big scene, wouldn’t make.

The lighting was really bad, at several moments. Some artists performing were doing so almost in the dark. Another thing that I really didn’t understand is why they didn’t film the acts and show those images simultaneously on the big screens. Vorst Nationaal/Forest National really proved to be too big a hall to make an impression on, for most of the acts. You didn’t see the details, you missed out on the facial expressions. The difference was clearly visible when all of a sudden, during the second part, that infectious, big smile of juggler Morgan was shown on those big screens.

Sure, some of those circus acts were great, but quite a lot of them were really disappointing too. And hadn’t I already seen a man with a hat walking around on stage all the time, thus trying to tie all the acts together, during one of those Dragone shows for Cirque Du Soleil?

Kdo!, until January 3, Vorst Nationaal/Forest National, Brussels. More info here.

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