With light and water Cirque du Soleil wows with Luzia
Cirque du Soleil has become a must-see event over the past decades. What started as a traveling troupe of performers in Quebec in the early 80s, has blossomed into the largest theatrical production in the world. So when the producers of Cirque du Soleil comes to town saying they’re going to be breaking down barriers and performing acts they haven’t attempted in the company’s 33 years, audiences would be wise to pay attention.
With Luzia, derived from the Spanish words luz (light) and lluvia (rain) Cirque du Soleil will take audiences for the first time on a trip to a world based exclusively on Mexico.
“Luzia is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions – a land that inspires awe with its breath-taking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people,” said co-writer and director Daniele Finzi Pasca in a release. Luzia is the director’s second collaboration with Cirque du Soleil after Corteo in 2005.
Making the journey through Mexico
Patrons of the show will recognize many influences from the Mexican culture from the set designs that include the remarkable landscapes the country is known for to the detailed costumes that are devoid of the traditional folkloric aspects of Mexican culture in order to “avoid potential clichés, especially when it comes to the color palette,” according to costume designer Giovanna Buzzi.
Instead what patrons will see is an array of scenes each depicted by a different color or combination of colors.
The Journey begins
The traveling protagonist, a bit of a clown, turns a key and is taken away into a mystical land. There he encounters a woman who, as she’s running with a larger-than-life metallic horse, spreads her butterfly wings in a tribute to the annual migratory journey of the monarch butterfly from southern Canada to central Mexico.
Symbolism, such as the monarch butterfly wings, is present throughout Luzia. The scene called Adagio pays homage to the golden age of Mexican cinema while the “football dance” pits two youthful soccer players in a battle of skill to see who can outdo the other.
A scene that has acrobats climbing vertical poles is a play on the effects of the extraordinary hallucinogenic properties of peyote while a revolving swing act takes an acrobat dressed in full “luchador” gear around the arena so everyone is able to get a good view of his abilities.
Breaking barriers through water
Though Cirque du Soleil has its share of performances based around bodies of water, never have they brought water to the stage. That changes in Luzia. The producers and set designers decided to place a water basin under the stage floor to imitate copious amounts of rain. Acrobatic acts that seemed unthinkable to perform in the rain are taken to the next level.
The presence of water also allowed the stage producers to create a scene involving perhaps one of the most sacred bodies of water in Mexico’s steeped indigenous culture: the cenote. Considered by Mayans as a gateway to the afterlife, the cenote is utilized in Luzia for an aerial strap act in which the acrobat interacts with a puppet resembling a life-size jaguar, a mythological figure in Mexican culture.
Of course no depiction of Mexico, real or imagined, is complete without music. Composer Simon Carpentier’s score is a journey unto itself as it takes the audience from a traditional village to the desert across a jungle and to the sea while also falling in the midst of a burgeoning metropolis.
The score has a distinct Latino flare, but also avoids clichés by deriving from all forms of popular music in Mexico including cumbia, salsa, banda, norteño and huapango.
Luzia will be under the Grand Chapiteau on the Pepsi Center grounds from June 1-July 9. For ticket information visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.