May 4th, 2003

Cirque Du Soleil: pseudo-language

The dialogue may sound like French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese — whatever Romance language you happen not to know — but the performers are actually speaking a form of nonsense that they call Cirquish. Mr. Tchijov, Dr. Wilson learned, would go onstage and practice his gibberish for an hour before each show. And the flavor of Cirquish changed from act to act. In the pseudo-ballad “Kumbalaw?,” the first song in “Saltimbanco,” the audience expects to hear a real foreign language, so that’s what it sounds like. (The first line is: “Kumbalawé, kumbalawé mana.”) “Kaze,” another “Saltimbanco” song, is based on a scale associated with Chinese music, so its Cirquish lyrics sound Chinese.

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