Although Cirque de la Symphonie normally sends only one or two artists out at a time during a show, that still means that a lot of physical activity is going on right alongside and dangling above a bunch of classical musicians who typically don't find themselves in anyone's line of fire.

"A violinist with a $500,000 violin can get a bit nervous," Allen said with a laugh. "But I can honestly say that [safety] has never been an issue."

Cirque de la Symphonie's holiday show will highlight the work of such artists as aerialist Aloysia Gavre, a former Cirque du Soleil member; Christine Van Loo, who choreographed aerial acts for Britney Spears' tour; and mime/juggler Vladimir Tsarkov, a product of the State College of Circus and Theater Arts in Russia.

In addition to the Christmas chestnuts (and a Hanukkah suite), music on the program will underline the classical side of Cirque de la Symphonie with such items as Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" and even Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."

Holiday and classical will collide in a mash-up of Ravel's "Bolero" and "Little Drummer Boy," featuring the Polish hand-balancing team of Jarek and Darek. "Jaws will drop," Allen predicted.

He is likewise upbeat about what Streltsov and Van Loo will be doing overhead as the BSO plays the "Waltz of the Flowers" from Tchaikovsky's most popular ballet.

"You'll never think of 'The Nutcracker' the same way again," Allen said.

If you go

Holiday Cirque de la Symphonie will be performed 2 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.; 8 p.m. Thursday at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $17.50 to $88. Call 410-783-8000 or go to

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