Mimes, dressed in white and striking a pose, lined the entrance to the spectacular outdoor ballroom at Hilton Dreamland Wednesday night, setting the stage for the hotel’s annual celebration.
The main attraction of the evening was the sensational Cirque du Soleil, which lived up to its international reputation of being original and creative. Described as a modern circus, they combine street and circus performances. In line with their tradition, the Cirque show did not use pre-recorded music; instead they performed to live operatic-style tunes sung in “Cirquish – an imaginary language invented by the company.
The contortionist, balancing on a snakelike stand, was stunningly elegant, his limbs flowing from one shape to another. The highlight of the performance was the acrobatic dance duet. The male performer’s ribbed abdomen generating many whispers among the female members of the audience, however, it didn’t distract from the duo’s incredible performance: tossing his petite female partner in the air as if she were no heavier than a feather.
The colorful costumes, the Cirquish melody, an evening breeze – a lucky respite from the day-long humidity – and the elegant ambiance put the audience in a holiday mood. (Which was only aided by Hilton’s less than subtle images of couples running on sandy, sun-kissed beaches shown on the large plasma screens during the evening.) The only complaints were the bustling waiters hindering the audience’s view as they catered to the guests, and that the performance was far too short.
Following a seated dinner – the chocolate coffee pudding gave us that extra kick to keep going – the audience was treated to a live performance by Lebanese pop sensation Mariam Faris. Singing a number of popular Egyptian classics, she soon had the audience singing along (though it’s curious that they flew in a Lebanese artist to sing Egyptian songs). She was a great sport, creating an intimacy with the audience, despite the fact that the majority of them joined her on stage unable to miss a photo op. Remarkably, she didn’t bat an eyelid and kept singing without missing a note.
As the evening died down, guests headed back to the shuttle buses in the car park. Despite the long drive home for many, they were in good humor, testament to an enjoyable evening.