Wheel of danger

Wheel of danger

SINGAPORE - Imagine a life-sized "hamster wheel" spinning non-stop and suspended 11m above the ground. Fancy running inside it without a harness to catch you should you slip?

If the thought alone is terrifying, then audiences will certainly have their hearts in their mouths watching the newest act The Wheel Of Death in theatrical circus production Le Noir, which opened at The MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands last weekend.

Presented by Base Entertainment Asia, the show is back in Singapore after its successful four-week run last year, when it sold more than 18,000 tickets.

Le Noir boasts an international cast of 20 acrobats, musicians, dancers and comedians, many formerly from world- renowned Canadian circus entertainment company Cirque du Soleil.

The Singapore show will feature 12 acts spread out over three segments in an intimate setting. Audiences will be seated around a custom-built circular stage of about 2.5m in diameter.

Watching The Wheel Of Death at such close proximity may not be for the faint-hearted as it has been branded one of the most complex and dangerous circus stunts in the world.

The act, which is being performed for the first time here, features two acrobats executing high-risk stunts atop and inside a pair of connected rotating wheels suspended high above the stage.

Four other acts - the Duo Trapeze, Roller Skaters, Hand Balance and Pas De Deux - feature new performers with new tricks up their sleeves.

None of the performers in Le Noir wear harnesses or are supported by safety ropes, underscoring the fact that behind the two-hour spectacle lies a group of dedicated performers with unfailing passion for their art, despite the potential danger every time they go on stage.

Columbian Angelo Rodriguez, 26, one half of the acrobatic duo Wheeloco that performs The Wheel Of Death, remains unfazed at the thought of a fatal accident occurring during his act.

"I love to do this and I never ever think about the possibility of falling. I just focus and make sure I put on a great performance for the audience," the former motorcycle stuntman replies calmly. He performed The Wheel Of Death for five years with Cirque du Soleil.

American contortionist Shenea Booth, 27, who performs the hand balance act, says those five to 10 minutes on stage are incredibly precious.

"It is scary and sometimes it can get very stressful because anything could happen in such a short time. But the deep love we have for what we do keeps us going," she says.

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