Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Corteo’ at Nutter Center

Arena tour returns to Dayton Nov. 16-19.

Credit: Maja Prgomet

Credit: Maja Prgomet

The athleticism, humor, poignancy and spectacle of Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo” will be presented Nov. 16-19 at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

Previously seen in outstanding fashion at the Nutter Center in 2019, “Corteo” means cortege in Italian. The production, set in a mysterious space between heaven and earth, centers on a clown who imagines his own funeral taking place within a festive carnival atmosphere, overseen by quietly caring angels.

Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, organizers say the story highlights “the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us.” The music is also lyrical and playful, carrying the production “through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.”

“Cirque du Soleil is always trying to take big risks and try something new — exploring new ways of telling stories and showing stories — and this show is grandiose, whimsical and quite magical,” says artistic director Alison Crawford. “Our artists are doing death-defying, high-risk acts such as triple (flips), flying from one side (of the stage) to another, and jumping on a teeterboard. We’re always pushing boundaries.”

Striking seating

In a Cirque du Soleil first, the stage is central in the arena and divides the venue, with each half of the audience facing the other half, giving a unique perspective not only of the show, but also a performer’s eye view of the audience.

“This show is in the round,” Crawford explains. “Having the audience on both sides offers a wonderful experience. Everyone doesn’t realize that until the curtain goes up, but when they do they’re excited. This show is so whimsical and the costumes are stunning as well.”

In addition, the set curtains are inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and the central curtains, which were hand painted, add to the overall grandeur.

Credit: Maja Prgomet

Credit: Maja Prgomet

‘A very human story’

This unique production, directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, first premiered in Montreal under the Big Top in April 2005. Since its creation, the show has been seen by over 10 million spectators in 20 countries and on four continents.

Crawford credits the show’s universal appeal to its strengths of balancing entertainment and emotion in a deeply personal way.

“This show follows a man’s life, meeting all the friends he has met during his life,” she says. “So, it’s a very touching show and a very human story. This show will make you feel something and make you think about your life. And all the artists on stage are playing themselves in a sense. The director really wanted to bring out who they were on stage. Our artists are very invested in the show and very passionate about it. The audience is seeing their personalities on stage and the love they have for the show and the love they have for life. It’s a really wonderful experience.”

‘A great show’

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the North American tour prematurely closed in 2020, so organizers are thrilled to have the show back on the road again. The tour incorporates 53 artists and 36 technicians. Crawford says a feeling of gratefulness could be felt throughout the organization when the tour reopened in April 2021.

“‘Corteo’ is a great show which hadn’t had a chance to finish its lifespan,” she says. “We still wanted to bring this beautiful show to other places around the world. You wouldn’t believe how incredible it was when we all first met at the beginning of the relaunch of the show. The artists and technicians had goosebumps and tears. It was total excitement to get back to doing what you love. Live shows were the first thing to shut down and the last thing to open. So, it was just incredible to be back on stage and perform again for a live audience.”

Credit: Maja Prgomet

Credit: Maja Prgomet

Crawford also feels the tour offers a heightened level of engagement post-pandemic.

“Live shows are so precious and important,” she says. “Live entertainment — to make people feel something, to be able to take them away from troubles — is very healing. And the artistry, acrobatics, color and music of ‘Corteo’ transports the audience.”


What: Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo”

Where: Wright State University’s Nutter Center, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Dayton

When: Nov. 16 -19; 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $25-$140

Tickets/more info: Visit

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