Produced by: Cirque du Soleil
Written by: Julie Hamelin Finzi
Acrobatic choreographers: Edesia Moreno Barata, Debra Brown, and Silvia Gertrúdix González
Composer and music director: Simon Carpentier
When: February 9 through March 19, 2017
Where: Taylor Street Bridge, San Jose
Parking: Parking is not easy, just in various small lots within a short walk of the show, and all costing $20
Tickets: $49-$310; https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/usa/san-jose/luzia/buy-tickets
of Cirque du Soleil's 'Luzia'
with acrobats, jugglers, contortionists and soccer
The Roman Circus Maximus was the first and largest circus in the world, and entertained the people for nearly a thousand years. Cirque du Soleil has only been going 30 years, but has probably already enthralled more audiences around the world than its early predecessor. And for good reason. Cirque du Soleil's latest show, "Luzia, A Waking Dream of Mexico," is a feast for the senses. It picks us up like a wrestler, spins us around in the air and then throws us on the mat as we exclaim, "How do they do that?"
I lost count of how many different acts there were 12 or 13, I think. Some were individual the remarkable contortionist who, like an arthropod, seemed to have no discernible backbone as he twisted and bent his joints in directions they weren’t originally designed for, emerging from and disappearing into a crumpled mess on the stage and some were group affairs, like the acrobats swinging on giant swings, jumping and somersaulting in the air before arriving on a second swing with the precision of a moon landing.
The theme of the show is "A Waking Dream of Mexico," and the initial sequences are dream-like, to be sure. The principal character is a clown, on a journey through the country’s culture and geography. We see the monarch butterfly on its annual migration from Canada, where the troupe began its modern take on the circus, to the warmer climes of Mexico, as the backdrop of a giant golden sun, or a blue moon, or a flower just about to open, looks down on the 40 or so acrobats, dancers, jugglers. Oh wait, the juggler! An amazing feat of juggling — in the air, round his back, under his leg, and extra clubs kept falling from the sky, taking him to a total of seven, which tied world record until 2006 (when it became eight).
Mexico has a rich cultural heritage both ancient and modern, so it was no surprise to see performers dressed as birds, fish, and big cats. In one episode, a young man emerges from the waters of a cenote, a naturally occurring sinkhole that the Mayan believed was a gateway to the afterlife. He dazzled the audience with a spectacular, almost Olympian display of acrobatics, suspended by two ropes above the water, as he gains the trust of a jaguar, an iconic figure in Mayan mythology.
In modern Mexico, of course, soccer is almost a religion, and at one point we were treated to a display of mad ball-control skills. But only after the audience had been engaged in some rather creative match-fixing by the clown, involving the use of an oversized beach ball and a whistle. Cirque du Soleil performers rarely speak, and never to the audience.
The flora and fauna of Mexico are nurtured by rain, and there were many times when a sheet of rain fell, sometimes imprinted with patterns and pictures like one of those posters that once were generated by dot-matrix printers. The accompanying music, composed by Simon Carpentier, was beautiful, perfectly evocative of Mexico’s native rhythms and Mariachi music, and singer Majo Cornejo regaled us with a number of soulful songs written for the production.
We certainly needed the twenty-minute intermission to rest our senses and let the images of the first half sink in. By the time the finale came we had run out of gasps, splutters and holy cow!s and were ready to finish our voyage through Mexico and come home to San Jose.
Email Tony Lacy-Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org