There are certain things you expect from a Cirq du Soleil show. Insane feats of athleticism. Somehow-funny-in-a-genuine-way clowns. Kids making core memories. $12 popcorn. 

But the sensation that is Cirq has been around for almost 40 years. Alegria, which is on now through June 5 in Vancouver, first premiered in 1994. Still, I think you would have to be a major killjoy to suggest that going to this show every time they come to town isn’t worth it (oh, but you saw The Batman three times in theatres? Cool). 

If that’s the boat you’re in (or you’re just a huge Cirqhead and are doing your daily reading) I’ve made a list of things that surprised me about this show in particular. Beyond the expected incredible backflips, trapeze acts, clownery and fire-breathing, there’s this: 

Cirque du Soleil AlegriaCirque du Soleil Alegria

1. The Vocals

The show officially starts with some of the mind-blowing acrobatics we know and love. In fact, the performers are so visually captivating that it took me a few moments to realize that the music I was hearing—specifically, the crystal-clear vocals that gave me the good chills—was coming from a person’s mouth. The score for most shows tends to be a mixed bag of gentle melodies and rich, ovation-worthy heavy-hitters, but this one is all hits. Despite the incredible circus acts going on before me, I found my eyes constantly drifting to the two singers. The musical (and physical) feat they pull off night after night is truly spectacular. If you love a good belt, you’ll love this show: it’s 2+ hours of vocal perfection.

Cirque du Soleil AlegriaCirque du Soleil Alegria 2. The Raw Sex Appeal

This is probably why you clicked on this story, you sick perv. 

Sometimes, the bright lights, striking costumes and heavy makeup may prompt you to forget that you’re watching some of the best athletes in the world. The talent of the performers makes them seem almost inhuman. You become swept up in the magic of it. And then: the ripple of a muscle. The grip on a bar. The 30-foot aerial kiss between two acrobats that I am convinced are in a deeply committed relationship outside of the show. Alegria is certainly appropriate for the whole family, and I do not mean to objectify the extremely hardworking cast or diminish their art in any way. But oh man, are they hot.

Cirque du Soleil AlegriaCirque du Soleil Alegria

3. The Language

To save everyone the am-I-high-out-of-my-mind-right-now feeling I was having in the first bit of the show: the performers are speaking a mix of English, French, Italian, Spanish, and total nonsense. (In fact, the nonsense is called “Cirquish,” and it’s a language made up by Cirque.) That means sometimes you’ll catch an English word, sometimes you’ll catch a phrase you learned in grade 9 French, and sometimes you won’t know what they’re saying at all—but you’ll always, always understand it. Through action and expression, the story is clear no matter what language you speak (which is pretty freaking awesome).

Cirque du Soleil AlegriaCirque du Soleil Alegria

4. This One Is a Spoiler So Stop Reading Now If You Don’t Want That

Okay, you’ve been warned: trampolines. I know that stage-wise, Cirq is famous for making the impossible possible (my parents saw O in Vegas approximately 17 years ago and never shut up about it) but nothing could have prepared me for the mechanism hidden under the Alegria stage: two runway-style trampolines in an “X” formation. That meant sharp corners, intersecting pathways and a pretty direct avenue that would send a performer plummeting into the audience if they weren’t perfect. And they were perfect.