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Cirque performers team up for family-focused show in Las Vegas

If Harry Chapin performed in the 21st century, “Cat’s in the Cradle” might be the song not of a man too busy with planes to catch and bills to pay, but of a father too engrossed in his phone to look up and talk to his kid.

In a new show created by Cirque du Soleil performers, a father and son struggle to retain an authentic relationship in a world where their devices demand their attention.

Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age.

Briana Bowie and Noah Bremer, artists from Cirque’s The Beatles “Love,” first began conceiving their passion project seven months ago.

“We wanted to make something creative, outside our workplace where we could feature our peers,” Bremer says about co-directing “Kinekt.” Bowie adds, “We had all of these artists and had to figure out ‘what is this show about?’ ”

That answer came by way of artist and pole dance athlete Alberto Del Campo. He performs in “Love”— as does his son Zack, 9, and formerly his son Alex, 11 — but they never perform together.

“Alberto wanted to do an act with his son about spending time with his kids,” Bowie says. The next step was developing that idea into a show. “We thought about what takes us away from our kids or from each other. The answer, in a way, is technology.”

The story follows a father, portrayed by Del Campo, and his son, portrayed in different ages by Alex and Zack. As a young father, he too seldom puts his devices down to play with his son. By the time he realizes how much he missed, his son has grown up to adopt that same habit.

In a pole routine, adapted to a four-post bed for the show, the father fantasizes about how he could have better spent his time. He and his son playfully dance and leap across the bed before the son dives under the covers in a game of hide-and-go-seek. The father lifts the blanket to find that his son is not there and it was only a dream.

Another act features a skillful duo twirling on sky-high straps. As the straps rise to the rafters and lower, the duo intertwines, lifts and even drops each other. “It’s a symbolic routine,” Bowie explains. “They represent the dad and his internal struggle.”

About 20 peers, co-workers and friends take the stage with cyr wheels, aerial silks and dance. “A lot of people got on board because they felt inspired by the theme or they were eager to express creativity,” Bremer says.

For the two co-directors, working behind the scenes is a welcome change. “When you’re doing the same show every day, it’s nice to have a creative outlet,” says Bowie, who has previously choreographed Cirque productions including “One Night for One Drop” and “A Choreographer’s Showcase.” “So a lot of us like to pursue side projects.”

Friends from Las Vegas Strip productions including “Michael Jackson: One” and “Le Reve” bring acts they’ve independently developed to “Kinekt.” Bowie helped adapt them to fit the show’s narrative.

Jonathan Meehan, an acrobat generalist in “Love,” is trying his hat as production manager and co-producer for “Kinekt.” “It’s cool to get to try something different,” he says.

The show’s theme resonates especially poignantly for Del Campo, who actively limits screen time with his kids. He doesn’t have a TV and computer use is limited to weekend mornings, but he admits it’s not a perfect solution. “Sometimes I’m doing work on my phone and they’ll say ‘hey put it down, let’s play’ and I am like ‘what am I doing?’ ”

The cast and crew behind “Kinekt” hope the story will make an impression on families. “It’s for kids, and for parents,” Del Campo says. “It’s really a beautiful story.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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