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Flying Dreams The Dharma According to Fifi

The contemporary Cirque du Soleil fusion of circus arts with street entertainment has spawned over two decades of spectacular entertainment worldwide, but now a quirky little aerial circus company on Salt Spring Island, B.C. has taken the nouveau cirque tradition in a whole new direction.

The Dharma According to Fifi is the most recent theatrical creation written and choreographed by Victoria Mihalyi, artistic director of Flying Dreams Aerial Arts Productions. Thriving in a haven of creativity on Salt Spring, the avante garde company has conjured up a magical new synthesis of drama, comedy, dance, and aerial arts. The Dharma According to Fifi features a full length script which develops characters and the dramatic components of the play while incorporating aerial and dance sequences organically. But the breath-taking flights of the aerial artist are still the trademark of Flying Dreams productions and this latest show is no exception.

Fifi — played by Victoria Mihalyi — is a rough-talking dreamer, born into the circus as “the daughter of two freak show acts” and elevated to the high-flying aerialist status of “circus royalty” by her now dead husband Alfredo. But without Alfredo, her double trapeze act is finished. Mussolini, the Godfather of the Circus, deems her too old to fly anymore, and Fifi is reduced to selling popcorn in a concession stand. Humiliated, she runs away from the circus, and at the invitation of Father Rufus Valentino, an exiled Jesuit priest — played by Anthony Ulc — takes refuge in a little church on a hill … with nice high ceilings.

Rufus and Fifi were lovers 30 years ago and it is from the clash of passed decades and opposite worlds that the play’s dramatic tension arises, “spiced up by racy jokes, a forbidden love scenario, and heart-stopping aerial performances.” (Gulf Islands Driftwood) The Dharma of the play’s title causes further mayhem and silliness to erupt when Fifi’s seriously skewed, populist brand of Buddhism collides with Rufus’s elite intellectual world of Catholic theology. But Fifi and Rufus help each other to realize their dreams of flight: “hers are literal (with plans to meet a flying yogi on a Himalayan mountaintop) while his are more a matter of personal liberation.”

“Punctuating the narrative are several scenes where Fifi dances seductively or angrily and practices her routines on the silks or trapeze. Mihalyi is absolutely captivating in her movement, whether dancing the tango or unfurling herself like a spool from the height of 30 feet while wrapped in a bolt of silk. Ulc also takes a turn on the trapeze rig: an impressive sight for such a large man.” (Gulf Islands Driftwood)

A luminous, sexually frank, “laugh out loud” story, The Dharma According to Fifi is “a show for grown-ups, full of fun, philosophy and artistry!” (Gulf Islands Driftwood)

 

 

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