The street performance in Nantes, France, started out like a Cirque du Soleil offshoot. Acrobats descended gracefully along cables suspended from cranes in front of the city's famous cathedral while twinkly, dreamlike music played.
But then they sat on a towering 43-foot mechanical spider and brought the beast to life, extending its bone-like legs from their curled position.
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Meet Kumo, a human-controlled mechanical beast made from wood and steel created by the French street theater company La Machine. A team of more than a dozen people is required to work the 38-ton spider, including its eyes, head, and eight legs, reports The Creators Project. Rolling along on a wheeled base, the spider can also spray "venom," which is just water.
"I thought it was interesting to work with a being that people find repulsive," La Machine's founder and artistic director François Delarozière told Noémie Jennifer of The Creators Project. "People often kill spiders even though they are very useful." First made in Nantes in 2009, Kumo has been touring internationally and returned to the city where La Machine is based this summer.
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Kumo doesn't come alone. La Machine's other stunning performance pieces include a giraffe, an elephant, and a dragon-horse that actually breathes fire. The creatures have come together in the streets for some unique interactions (video).
Following its homecoming, Kumo is going to rest for a little while. Then the spider will begin touring again next year starting in Ottawa, according to The Creators Project.
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Watching video clips of Kumo's performance in France, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the spider "danced" for the crowds. And the spraying water effects looked welcome in the summer heat.
Still, anyone who shares Ron Weasley's fear of giant spiders might want to stay back. This creature is way more friendly than Aragog of Harry Potter fame, but at least as huge: