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The blue and yellow tents are up in Tysons Corner. The set has rolled in on 65 trucks, the popcorn is ready, and the large clock looming over the stage has struck 11:11. It is time for KURIOS - CABINET OF CURIOSITIES to begin. And trust me when I say, it is time well spent.

KURIOS - CABINET OF CURIOSITIES gives its guests an experience from the second they enter the gates. Performers do handstands, juggle and insert themselves into unsuspecting guests' photos. The archway and lobby area are elegantly decorated with everything from typewriters to Victrolas, all orchestrated to immerse their patrons into the dystopian world inside The Grand Chapiteau, and it continues as you find your seat. Something is always happening on the stage and in the audience as the large clock ticks slowly towards showtime.

Writer and Director MICHEL LAPRISE, along with a creative team of 16 other designers, directors and artists, has set KURIOS at the break of the Industrial Revolution. The initial set is a large arrangement of cogs, metal platforms, Edison bulbs and mechanical parts, all being controlled by The Seeker (ELIGIUSZ SKOCZYLAS) and his assistants.

Costume Designer Philippe Guillotel dresses his performers in a variety of interesting colors, shapes and textures, each planned and executed down to the last detail. I loved the design of the Kurios, The Seeker's robotic assistants, the costume colors of the Russian Cradle Duo (ROMAN TERESHCHENKO and OLENA TERESHCHENKO), and the Accordion Man (NICO BAIXAS), whose costumed constantly shifted and played as much as he did on stage.

The show is comprised of 13 acts, almost all of which have separate performers from the rest. As the acts go on, the main characters watch from upstage, the side, or the audience, all continually providing other interesting things to observe. Each of the main characters has his or her own signature movement. Mr. Microcosmos (KARL L'ÉCUYER) gives a debonair flounce to his jacket. Klara the Telegraph of the Invisible (EKATERINA PIROGOVSKAYA) has a rapid step to travel across the stage. Mini Lili (ANTANINA SATSURA) struts with a knowing smile. It's all detailed, and it all fits. Plus, it makes you want to see it again so you don't miss anything.

KURIOS is filled with the acrobatics, tricks and balancing acts one might expect, but this show repeatedly takes them a step further. In "Upside Down World", the performers not only balance on chairs going up, but a group is also suspended upside down and does the same thing. In "Rola Bola," JAMES EULISES GONZALEZ balances on a clear board not only on large canisters, but also while his platform is swinging back and forth. It's enough to make you squirm in your seat, but the talent of each performer will keep you fixated forward. One major highlight for me was "Acro Net" in Act 2, when several performers used a large net as a trampoline, flying into the air to perform flips, splits and even flailing fish movements.

Facundo Gimenez serves as the Comic Act, leading the "Invisible Circus", speaking to the audience, and pulling a member from it to have what can best be described as the worst first date you can imagine. Gimenez is absolutely hilarious and brought forth rolling laughter from the crowd.

Helping to pedal the show forward and heighten the energy is RAPHAËL BEAU's score and song composition. Beau pulls from different styles and languages, giving the audience a variety of tunes to tap their feet to, as well as very specific cues to help the movement on stage. Singer EIRINI TORNESAKI has a beautiful, clear voice and becomes part of the acts herself at times. During "Aerial Straps", she stands to the side, at first singing as though she is trying to understand, then letting herself get lost in the rest of the song as the performers swing through the audience.

This was my first Cirque du Soleil experience, and I can only describe it as a simply spectacular evening. From the detailed set design to the immense talent of the performers, to the planning that makes every moment seem seamless, this show is brilliant. As we gathered up our things and walked out, we noticed a "Now Re-Entering Reality" sign, an apt description for the dystopian dreamworld we had seen. I highly encourage you to step into the tent and the dream for yourselves, and see KURIOS - CABINET OF CURIOSITIES as soon as you can.

KURIOS runs now through September 18th in Tysons Corner, VA. The runtime is around 2 hours and 30 minutes. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Cirque du Soleil website. Photo credit: Martin Girard

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