Cirque du Soleil's Luzia
Cirque du Soleil's new show Luzia premiered in Montreal in the Old Port on May 4th and will continue to run until July 17, 2016. Inspired by the vibrancy and liveliness of Mexican Culture, Luzia takes the viewers into a journey through an imagined Mexico. Visual elements related to Mexico's rich culture such as rain, Aztec marigolds, hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, and various forms of Mayan imagery permeate the stage representing both a traditional and contemporary Mexico.
Ronan and I had the pleasure of watching Luzia during the first week the show premiered. If I had to sum up our thoughts on the show briefly, I would say overall that we found Luzia highly enjoyable and would recommend the show to both Cirque du Soleil aficionados as well as ones who have never seen a Cirque du Soleil show before.
Admittedly, there were acts which were still rough on the edges (a fumble here and there) uncharacteristic of the other Cirque du Soleil shows I have seen. These "flaws", however, did not take away from the overall show and actually added to the experience which I explain in greater depth below (so yes, you have to read on to find out!).
Some acts stood out more than others. Ronan and I had our favourites. In no particular order, here were some of the acts which caught our attention and require our special mention.
Ronan loved the opening act involving the tumblers and hoops. Dressed as birds, the performers leaped through multiple hoops in choreographed succession. Upon watching their performance, it was clear to me that what they were doing was no easy feat. The performance itself was not perfect. On some occasions, the performers had to try the stunt again which only bore the testament as to how difficult Cirque du Soleil's acts are. Because Cirque du Soleil performers often perform stunts without perceived difficulties, the audience can quickly forget the complexity and demanding nature of some of the stunts. Sometimes the performers just make it look too easy. The tumblers of Luzia at times struggled with successfully going through the hoops. The audience in response jubilantly cheered them on. As the act proceeded, the audience became more and more invested in their performance encouraging the performers before and after every leap. The bond that developed between the audience and performers was apparent. I was enthralled by the performance and the audience's reactions to the performers. It quickly became apparent to me that something special was happening in the big top that night, and I was fast becoming part of it.
Aleksei Goloborodko, the contortionist, captivated the audience with each unnatural yet controlled twist and bend of his body. Ronan was in absolute disbelief constantly exclaiming, "That's impossible! He must be possessed!". I have never seen Ronan so shockingly enthused before. He was horrified and delighted at the same time. He, like the rest of the audience, responded to Aleksei with unbridled bemusement and glee.
Aerialists without a doubt are always a sight to behold at Cirque du Soleil's shows. Luzia did not disappoint. Benjamin Courtenay, in particular, was a delightful vision. Suspended in mid-air, Benjamin gracefully twirled over a sinkhole located on stage, dipping into the water at key moments right before breathtakingly propelling back upwards. A choreographed flurry of graceful swinging, highly acrobatic, and I stress death-defying movements (they just make it seem so easy so we tend to forget this crucial fact!), Benjamin commands the stage with his performance. There was a pronounced hush in the audience during the thrilling and crucial moments before enthusiastic cheers erupted at each stunt's successful completion.
Photo Credit: Luzia
The swing performance at the end of the show was an audience-favourite. Heart-stopping, the audience sat on the edge of their seats as the performers leaped from one swing to the next at frighteningly high altitudes. If I had nails to bite, I would have been biting them - I was that anxious. There were a few rocky moments in the performance here and there although nothing major. Particularly, some of the performers landed a little off-balance but managed to keep their composure. I have to point out that during this part of the act they were not landing on the ground or a net of sorts and were landing instead on what appeared to be a bed frame carried by other performers. Its stability was dependent on the performers carrying it while the leaping performer at a high speed drops on it from up above. Point in fact - the stunts involved with this performance were not easy. The rocky nature of the performance which only emphasized the obvious difficulties of the stunts contributed to the audience's excitement in encouraging the performers to keep on.
The musical composition by Simon Carpentier fit the show's Latin theme beautifully. Ronan at one point asked me to purchase the CD which he attests he never asked if you mention it to him now. For some reason, he had forgotten that he told me during the show he liked the music but then again, Ronan also forgets what he ate for breakfast - I am thinking it's an 8 year old thing. In any case, he was the one to first point out that Luzia's composition was worth listening to more than once. The scenery by Eugenio Caballero, same talent who designed one of my favourite films "Pan's Labyrinth", formed a significantly majestic aspect of the show. The scenery not only complemented but in fact completed the overall theme of Luzia. My favourite set involved a waterfall on stage displaying various Mexican-inspired images in the water as it poured down. A "cut-out" of Mexican images right in the flowing water - it was absolutely spectacular - how in the world did they do that?
All in all, Cirque du Soleil's new production Luzia did not disappoint. Luzia was lively, vibrant, colourful and several nail-biting moments here and there added to the overall excitement felt in the big top. Though some of the performances were less than perfect, it only served as a testament to the amount of skill, discipline, and hard work Cirque's performers need to pull of a show. The audience and the performers became one during this particular performance. We were invested in the performers' successes. We cheered them on when they performed their stunts flawlessly and clapped and encouraged them to try again when they did not. At the end of the evening, it was clear Luzia was not only about the beauty of Mexico's landscape and Cirque's brilliant performers, Luzia also embodied the camaraderie between the audience and its performers. Together, everyone in the big top signified the true beauty and essence of Mexican culture - friendship, family, and love.
Disclosure: All or a portion of this event was sponsored or provided at a reduced cost in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own - no pretenses here!
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