IT is only when you see the performers of Cirque du Soleil up close that you begin to appreciate what the human body is capable of.

Next week, the company’s new 25th anniversary production - Ovo - will take over the vast spaces of the Manchester Arena to leave audiences spellbound as a magical world of insects evolves before their eyes.

One of the first jobs the crew will undertake when they come to Manchester is to fly the flags of the many nations who make up the touring team. Twenty-one flags of different countries are a striking reminder of the global family that makes up Cirque du Soleil.

“In many ways that sums up who we are,” said the show’s artistic director Tim Bennett, glancing up at the flags. “People from 21 countries; 17 different languages and cultures all working together, it perhaps is something the world needs right now.”

As he speaks, a team of acrobats go through their routine on the practice mat behind the vast wall which will be built in each arena. At 64 feet wide and 30 feet high it dominates the space and acts as a giant projection screen for some of the most complex graphics Cirque du Soleil have ever used.

Everything about this show is impressive. The numbers alone are eyebrow raising. The production requires 100 people to keep it on the road - 50 performers and 50 technicians, riggers and backstage staff.

Twenty-three articulated lorries take the show from venue to venue carrying everything from all the staging, lighting and sound equipment to the wardrobe, a mobile kitchen and even two fridges which are full of make-up for the performers, part of an exclusive deal with Mac.

Ovo is one of 17 different Cirque du Soleil shows currently being performed around the world from Las Vegas to Australia.

“Ovo is slightly different to what people might expect,” he said. “Of course there are the high level acrobatics and the crazy costumes and make-up everyone has come to expect but with Ovo it’s a little more playful and energetic and silly than the typical Cirque show. They are are generally mysterious and dark whereas this offers a different tone, it’s a different mood.”

As a result it is being seen as the most family-friendly Cirque show to date and its environmental message has certainly struck a chord with family audiences.

“For the 25th anniversary show we wanted to create something that would be environmentally supportive,” said Tim.

“I hope that people will come away from Ovo having escaped their lives for two plus hours and feeling being uplifted.”

Cirque du Soleil: Ovo, Manchester Arena, Wednesday, September 26 to Sunday, September 30. Details from