In the early 1980s, street performers Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberte gathered together a troupe and set out to entertain passers-by in the charming village of Baie-Saint-Paul in Canada. Performing on stilts, they juggled, danced and breathed fire to rapturous applause from onlookers. And so the idea was born to create a contemporary circus that would become known as Cirque du Soleil. The award-winning touring production continues to wow audiences around the world with their highly imaginative shows, otherworldly characters, and death-defying acts. All of which you can experience in their production entitled “Kurios,” which is showing in Tokyo until July 8, 2018.

First performed in 2014 in Montreal, Canada under the full title “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities,” the production was created and directed by Michel Laprise, and marks the 14th Cirque du Soleil show to appear in Japan. The theme centers around an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension to reinvent everything around him. In typical Cirque du Soleil fashion, the world is literally turned upside down. It’s impossible to do the show justice in words, but to offer just a taste of what awaits you, here are our five favorite characters and acts from Kurios…

Rola Bola

With his cheeky grin and awesome turquoise Aviator-inspired jacket, this fearless rola bola expert makes your heart stop more than once. Using cylinders and planks resting on a platform, he continues to build higher structures on which to balance. And then the platform begins to swing…

cirque du soleil kurious tokyo weekenderContortion

It’s hard to tear your eyes away from these mind-bogglingly bendy bodies that are dressed up to look like electric eels. With unbelievable fluidity, they form pyramids and other shapes, all the while contorting themselves into inside-out figures.

cirque du soleil kurios tokyo weekenderUpside Down World

Imagine you’re having dinner with a group of friends, when suddenly one of the guests begins to pile chairs on top of each other, challenging another to climb up this tower and touch the chandelier hanging from the (very high-up) ceiling. From then on, things just get weirder…

cirque du soleil kurios tokyo weekenderMini Lili

Although this little lady doesn’t perform any acrobatics, we love how she pops up out of nowhere through the show, bringing humor and a touch of glamor to different scenes. She is meant to represent the group leader Mr. Microcosmos’ unconscious mind.

cirque du soleil kurios tokyo weekenderAcro Net

A net covers the entire stage, giving these mystical underwater creatures an expansive area in which to show off their trampoline techniques. You try pirouetting, somersaulting, and street-style dancing on a massive net and see how graceful you look.

“Kurios” is showing at Odaiba Big Top until July 8, 2018. For more info, see our event listing.

Photographs by Martin Girard, Pierre Manning / © 2014 Cirque du Soleil