Vladimir Pestov made it look like Danielle DiGuglielmo was juggling when he put his arms between hers while she was ringing up customers’ orders at Penn State Berkey Creamery on Tuesday.
Pestov threw three white balls and an ice cream cone into the air, making them go around in different juggling directions with each release, as part of “Cirque du Sorbet.”
As he stood behind her, reaching out with his arms under hers, he caught the items, then slowly released his arms from under hers and pointed at DiGuglielmo, making it look as though she was the star of the performance.
A group of Creamery guests applauded as Pestov and three other Cirque du Soleil performers entertained and interacted with people at the Creamery to promote “ Dralion,” a land, water, air and fire-themed show.
Earlier this year, Creamery management was approached by those from the troupe who were looking for a place to mingle with the community and offer a glimpse of what to expect at the main show, Creamery Assistant Manager Jim Brown said.
“We were delighted, because we knew it would be fun for everyone,” he said. “We have a busy flow of people coming in, and agreed to have them stop here.”
Cirque spokeswoman Elyssa Wenkert said a similar event was held in March at Primanti Bros. when the Cirque show “Varekai” was in Pittsburgh.
“It was a huge success,” Wenkert said. “It’s a fun way to let them connect with the public on a different level.”
“Dralion” is presented by about 50 performers, with six acting as main characters.
The four performers at the Creamery on Tuesday were Pestov; Facundo Gimenez, who plays clown Giovanni; Tara Pandeya, as Oceane, goddess of water; and Tarek Rammo, as Shine.
“When you’re on stage, you’re disconnected from the audience, so this is a nice way to connect with your audience and personally relate to them,” Pandeya said.
For Rammo, 26, performing with Cirque du Soleil is a dream come true.
At 16, he attended a Cirque performance for the first time. That sparked his interest in pursuing a career using his gymnastics talent.
Rammo then attended clown school and six months ago was cast as Shine in “Dralion.”
“I’m still kind of new to the show, but it’s what I always wanted to do,” Rammo said. “It’s nice that we’re also given the chance to interact with people who might come and see the show.”
And it was a treat to guests.
Brad Veesey, a Penn State junior, was between classes when he stopped by the Creamery.
He said he was “thrown off guard” when he went to pay for his yogurt and granola bar, and was spontaneously surrounded by dancing, juggling and miming performers.
“I came in to get a snack and (left) with of vision of something I (have) only ever seen on TV,” Veesey said. “I wasn’t sure what was going on. ... This is really cool, though, because it breaks up the monotony of the day.”