BIG TOP, BIGGER DREAMS
Come one, come all, to experience David Dimitri’s L’homme Cirque—the greatest show of the summer.
By Marilyn Millstone
When we think of a circus tightrope performer, most of us think of risk. Fear. Danger. But David Dimitri— whose one-man show L’homme Cirque helps celebrate the Music Center’s new Bernard Family Foundation Pavilion—sees it differently. He sees it as intimate, aerial poetry. That sense of intimacy begins with the L’homme Cirque tent itself, which Dimitri—as a team of one—sets up by himself. It seats just 220 people. This allows the former Cirque du Soleil and Big Apple Circus performer to create a close connection with his audience. Not that this connection always comes easily. “Teenagers with smartphones come in and look bored. They stare at their phones instead of at me. Then, suddenly, they look up,” he says. “They start to focus on what I’m doing up there. They drop their coat of prejudice and get sucked in.” Afterward, he notes, “they want to high-five me. Get my autograph. It happens every time. That really touches me.” The son of famed Swiss clown Jakob Dimitri, David Dimitri grew up in a remote valley in the Italian sector
of southern Switzerland. Naturally wiry and athletic, he spent much of his time alone, climbing trees and learning how to juggle and ride a unicycle. Although he felt “very isolated,” his solitude was frequently broken by visits from artists who performed with his father or were inspired by his work, including legendary mime Marcel Marceau and renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Inspired by these entertainers and encouraged by his father, Dimitri entered a circus training academy in Budapest at age 14. At 19, he began studying dance at Juilliard. He still remembers how awed he felt when, at a barre class in Lincoln Center, he realized ballet superstar Mikhail Baryshnikov was right in front of him, taking the class too. By fusing together his acrobatic and balletic training, Dimitri developed the lyrical performance style for which he won worldwide acclaim. Then, in 2001, after years of touring with big circuses, Dimitri decided it was time for a change. In a big circus, he explains, “any individual artist can be replaced and the show still goes on. L’homme Cirque relies solely on one person: me.” While Dimitri didn’t intend to produce
301.581.5100 | Summer 2019 | STRATHMORENEWS