Men in tights! On horses! Russian circus Artania is breathtakingly hot
Never share the stage with dogs or children, W.C. Field famously said about notorious up-stagers whose cuteness cannot be underestimated.
Well, forget cute — think presence. Think power.
Because when you inject a half-dozen horses into a show featuring gymnastic routines, music and clowning, it’s the steeds who steal the show.
Well, almost. As Artania, a Russian circus in the vein of Cirque du Soleil and its many clones, is settling into another month-long stay in Dallas, the stallions are getting most of the attention. But the men (and some women) do most of the work.
And work it must be. In the opening sequence, men astride two horses, one foot on each back in a standing gallop, navigate into the ring. Imagine skiing down a hill with your skis on the back of a polar bear and you get a sense for the "what that f—?" skill that goes into a show like this.
The four-legged performers make up a fairly small percentage of the actual show, although they are instrumental in many of the gasp-inducing moments, especially the finale, a synchronized stunt dressage where their riders manipulate themselves under the horses while circling the ring at a full pace. The threat of death and danger — it’s kinda sexy.
And so, for that matter, are the performers. Four blond, lanky boys, nimble as fleas, perform graceful gymnastics, leaping on one another’s shoulders. A trampoline runway allows men the force to do gravity-defying backflips, the momentum promising to launch them into the stands. There’s juggling, balancing acts, even knife-throwing and sword fights. And did we say almost every man, from the clowns to the equestrians, is smokin’ hot?
Because, let’s be frank: This is family-friendly homoeroticism at its best. Toned men in tights showing off their athletic prowess amid a thundering herd?
Cirque Artania, 600 S. Industrial Blvd. Through July 26. Thursdaysâ€“Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m. $60.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 19, 2009.