Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Cirque du Soleil's 'Luzia' - A Mexican Trip You Won't Soon Forget

Review of Cirque du Soleil's "Luzia."
Left: Ugo Laffoly's hand-balancing act. Right: Kelly McDonald gets tossed around. 


By now you have heard that one of the performers of Cirque du Soleil’s presentation was hurt during the opening night’s performance on Thursday, March 30. The joyful show came to a quick and somber stop during Luzia’s second to last act of the night, the “Swing to Swing.” Instead of landing on her feet from one swing to the other, the performer landed flat on her back. The audience gasped and after a few moments the medical crew arrived on stage. Then the music changed to a more peaceful tone and the audience was asked to stay seated. Everyone watched in relative silence as the crew took care of the performer and reassuring messages were given overhead that the show would go on. After a few minutes, she was taken away on a flat board, the audience gave a standing ovation, the crew cleared off the stage and the finale for the program continued. It was an eerie and unsettling end to one fantastic show. Cirque du Soleil is one class act that even when tragedy strikes, they remain calm, orderly and professional. Fortunately, the performer was okay and will come back to the show in a few days. That was the end of the show. Now, here’s what we got to see at the beginning…

Review of Cirque du Soleil's "Luzia."
"Swing to Swing"
Luzia gets its name from “luz” meaning “light” in Spanish and “Iluvia” meaning “rain,” the two main components of the show. Luzia is beautiful, breathtaking and a little weird. This “trip” to Mexico began with a clown (not your traditional clown with makeup) parachuting from the sky and having a little trouble with his parachute and lands in a “waking dream” which will features many different aspects of Mexican culture with some more traditional than others.

Unlike other Cirque du Soleil shows, Eric Fool Koller (from the Netherlands) is this show’s only clown who pops up from time to time to help bridge the show from act to act, which Luzia does seamlessly. The next act immediately following called “Running Woman” featured Shelli Epstien (from the United Kingdom) running on a large treadmill seemingly being chased by a silver horse. She is donned with giant butterfly wings and act is a fantastic way to start the show.

Review of Cirque du Soleil's "Luzia."
Luzia continued the next act with two treadmills and metal hoops that various performances would dive through. The act “Adagio” followed with Kelly McDonald (from the USA!) literally being tossed around from by four men. While it’s no way to treat a lady, it was pretty cool to watch. Then the next act featured trapeze artist Enya White (from Canada) and two “Cyr Wheel” artists (Angelica Bongiovonni and Rachel Salzman (both from the USA) spinning around in the center of the stage. And then it began to rain which gave the act a whole different look and feel as the performers rejoiced in the shower.

The clown came back to interact with the audience while a “film crew” set up a beach scene where Ugo Laffoly (from France) did a hand-balancing act on stilts getting progressively higher as he went. This was followed by the “Football Dance” which was basically two soccer players (Laura Biondo from Italy and Abou Traore from Ginea) doing hip hop moves while balancing a soccer ball. It was cooler than it sounds.

Review of Cirque du Soleil's "Luzia."
Benjamin Courtenay, not Fabio. 
After intermission, we various pole dance specialists did their thing followed by Krzystof Holowenko (from Poland) doing a 360-degree circle on a large swing and then“Straps” artist, Benjamin Courtenay (from Canada) flying about swinging his long locks in and out of pool of water in the air. The show finished off with juggler Rudolf Janecek (from the Czech Republic) and one of the most incredible contortionists I’ve ever seen – Aleksei Goloborodko (from Russia). Throughout the show we were treated with an incredible water show that started and stopped quickly to actually presents “pictures” as it was dropped from the top of the ten, people walking around with fish heads and arguing cacti.

Overall, Luzia didn’t necessarily feel like Mexico, but more like different dreamy versions of the country. If you’ve seen and enjoyed other Cirque de Soleil shows, add this to your list. The whole program is very family-friendly with enough interaction to keep your kids’ eyes off their cell phones and on the show.

Luzia continues performing at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington under the “grand chapiteau” through May 21. Performances are at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday and there is matinee performances on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m.

Related: More information about Luzia