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Cirque du Soleil's OVO blends nature, dance
Unique acrobatic troupe will perform through Dec. 19 at Atlantic Station in Atlanta
"Ants" juggle one another in "OVO," the latest show by Cirque du Soleil, on stage now through Dec. 19 at Atlanta's Atlantic Station.

'OVO' Cirque du Soleil

When: Through Dec. 19

Where: Atlantic Station, 171 17th St. NW, Atlanta

How much: $35-$230

More info: 800-450-1480

ATLANTA — If you've driven down Interstate 85 in the last few weeks, you might have seen a glimpse of Cirque du Soleil.

 Jutting above the guard rails at Atlantic Station is the "Grand Chapiteau," the blue and yellow striped tent that signals the arrival of an event that cannot simply be described as a "circus."

"OVO," Cirque du Soleil's latest Atlanta show, will be at Atlantic Station through Dec. 19.

The show focuses on a group of insects and their fascination with an egg, introduced to the group by a strange fly that is considered "The Foreigner."

The Foreigner falls for a flirtatious lady bug, and his infatuations with the lady and the egg drive the story of OVO, which means "egg" in Portuguese.

"The show is about insects, and when you arrive into the big top, you basically arrive into the environment of insects," said Marjon Van Grunsven, the show's artistic director. "And you're going to experience one day into the life of this community of insects, from morning till noon till night."

"The story of OVO is very, very simple. It's just about life. It's about life and love and creatures falling in love with each other," said Van Grunsven, who is responsible for "the quality and integrity of the show."

But with costumes that could reign on the red carpet, incredible acrobatics and enough wonder to burst the seams of the Grand Chapiteau, OVO is so much more than even its own story.

At the show's Nov. 3 dress rehearsal, show-goers mingled outside the main tent before the opening act. Once the tent flaps were drawn back, the group entered the world of OVO, its namesake egg lit from within and looming large on the stage.

The smell of grass wafted through the air.

Then out came the insects. They jumped, they flew, they twitched, they transformed ... in near perfect form and to the beat of a live orchestra.

Van Grunsven said OVO's creators searched the world for the performers that had what the show required, and ended up including artists from 15 different nations.

"There's always first a concept, and they say, OK, we want, within this concept of insects, we want flying acts. We want crickets who can jump, we want ants who can juggle," said Van Grunsven.

"Then they start searching for those types of artists, who are all around the world," she said, adding that the show's primary creator, Deborah Colker, focused on the abilities of insects themselves when crafting each act.

For instance, an act that contains a trampoline and a climbing wall showcases a group of crickets.

 Crickets in real life can jump three times their own body weight and length," said Van Grunsven. Another act puts the spotlight on ants — small in stature, but agile and strong.

"We have the little ants that are jugglers with their feet, so they juggle props and they juggle ... each other," she said.

Karen Schleiffarth of Park City, Utah, lived in Atlanta for 14 years, and attended the Nov. 3 dress rehearsal.

"I'm here visiting friends and my friends got tickets, and I got to come," she said after the show concluded.

It was Schleiffarth's first time at a Cirque du Soleil show, and, "I loved it. It was so awesome," she said.

"The music, and just the talent of all the tumblers and dancers, and (the) gymnastics ... I mean, (I liked) the story, and it was just wonderful."

Van Grunsven said she thinks the success of "OVO," which has been in production since May 2009, is due to the combination of different types of art.

"The fusion of different types of art has been combined in such a smart way that it's flawless," she said.

"You have an incredible design of costumes, you have beautiful Brazilian music that fits the acts, you have a very big variety of insects on the stage."

"Another element I think that one of the elements of the success behind the show, is that, compared to all the other Cirque du Soleil shows, this is the first show where there are no human characters on stage."

It's all insects, all the time," she said.