Cirque Du Soleil: LUZIA – Theatre Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Cirque du Soleil has been around for almost 40 years now and one would wonder, after all this time, how on earth do they continue to bring something new? Yet they consistently succeed and each time I attend, I am left in both surprise and wonderment. This year, Cirque du Soleil has brought a new production to Australian shores with their travelling Big Top show – LUZIA.

Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, LUZIA is a journey through a stunning artistic representation of a fictional Mexico and is an acrobatic tribute to the vibrant culture of South American culture. As I entered the Big Top, the circular stage was adorned with a field of bright flowers and a large metal disc, almost representing a vault door, hung at the rear of the stage.

As patrons took to their seats, a lone musician sat and played some beautiful Flamenco music on the guitar. Slowly, they were joined by other musicians and two dancers dressed as birds that began to play in the garden. However, there was one object in the centre of the stage I wasn’t sure of. It turned out to be a large treadmill and it was quickly put to use as a woman emerged and transformed into a large butterfly running on the moving platform. To add to an already impressive introduction, a large puppet horse joined the butterfly on the treadmill and the whole stage started to rotate!

Continuing with the treadmill work, dressed as birds, a selection of the talented acrobatic cast began to flip, tumble and dive through hoops, all whilst the treadmill continued to run. I have seen hoop diving before, but adding the constant momentum of a moving target made it even more exciting.

There are other acts that I have seen before that are given a new lease on life with LUZIA. Swing-to-Swing where two swings flip acrobats into the air landing on the opposite swing, a feat I have seen a few times, but never with a rotating stage adding that extra bit of danger. An impressive juggling act from Cylios Pytlak as he juggled silver batons progressively faster and faster as a group of musicians play the marimba and a flugelhorn. Each time the flugelhorn blew, an additional baton dropped from the ceiling and just when I thought he couldn’t add another, one more would drop! Truly remarkable.

Ugo Laffolay also left patrons gobsmacked by performing a death-defying Hand Balancing act which reached great heights and had me alongside the rest of the Big Top audience holding our breaths. Plus Aleksei Goloborodko thoroughly stunned during a contortion act that left me squeamish and speechless.

Something new that I witnessed was a lovely tribute to South America’s cultural link to Football with a masterful exhibition of skills and an impressive dance by Igo Matos and Abou Traoré. The duo performed a range of tricks with a football as they danced and somehow kept the ball off the ground. Most impressive was a breakdance sequence where the ball seemingly defied all laws of physics and stayed filmily placed on their feet. Later in the show, there is also an exciting pole-dancing number that too wowed me.

However, there are two acrobatic performances that I have seen done time and time again, but this time I was left sitting in disbelief and awe at the beauty I had witnessed. And they both involve one element that has never been seen under the Big Top before, water. The first, a trapeze act by Enya White who was accompanied by Sarah Togni and Shena Tschofen on the Cyr Wheel (giant hoop that they roll around in). White on the trapeze was somewhat the same, until the rain came.

That is right, LUZIA is more than just a rotating stage, it is fitted with a rain mechanism that created some stunning visuals. Not only does it look incredible, but White also continues her performance and swings her trapeze through the rain. I was not only blown away by how amazing it looked, but by the thought that water is slippery, and Enya White is hanging onto a rod that is swinging on ropes while she is drenched with rain. How she didn’t slip off, I will never know!

The second, and arguably the most moving performance of the whole show comes from Jérome Sordillon on the Aerial Straps. Not only does Sordillon display his super-human strength as he swings, climbs, and spins from the straps, but he has choreographed a beautiful tribute to the rain dance rituals of the Mayans and Aztecs. Joining Sordillon on stage is an incredible life-like Cheetah puppet as they both make their way to a small pool in the centre of the stage made to resemble a watering hole. Sordillion splashes in the water and creates some stunning shapes as he glides around on the straps, all while the Cheetah follows and is in awe of his every move.

This brings me to the incredible puppets and puppeteering skills of the cast. Lead by Gerardo Ballester Franzoni and Andrii Lytvak, the movement brought to all the animals and creatures of LUZIA are so life-like and flawless, you could easily mistake them for the real thing. This is only enhanced by the soundscapes, lighting, set designs and beautiful costuming. There is even a live band led by Sébastien Laurendeau and Toby Couture with live vocals from Majo Cornejo, who has the most gorgeous and powerful vocals.

It is not often that I will call out a specific piece of the set or staging, but this one deserves a mention. The rain. Not only is it the first time such an apparatus has been used under the Big Top, but it is also an incredible piece of technology. It is more than just a waterfall, it is art. Almost like a natural LED Panel, the waterfall can create shapes and pictures as it falls from the ceiling. There is a wonderful dance number in the middle of the show that left me astonished. Witnessing the waterfall itself is well worth the price of admission alone.

With all the magnificent talents I have mentioned, Cirque du Soleil would not be complete without its clown. Eric Koller is charismatic, funny and the perfect host of LUZIA. Koller stands out not only because he is very tall, but because he commands the attention of the packed Big Top every time he steps out onto the stage. Not a single word is spoken, but I could fully understand what Koller was trying to convey.

He is also the perfect distraction whilst the crew reset for the next performance. Koller is so captivating that you will not even notice what is happening in the background. He even gets his own hilarious segment with the rain and also gets the audience involved with some hilarious crowd participation. Eric Koller is an absolute delight and is the cherry on top of an already flawless production.

You would think after seeing one Cirque du Soleil production that you have seen them all, but this is not the case. LUZIA is unlike anything I have ever seen from the famous circus. I was left stunned, it was exhilarating, it was moving, it was exquisite, and it left me wanting to see more. I could happily return to experience this all over again. If there is only one Cirque du Soleil show you are to see in your lifetime, make it LUZIA. You will not be disappointed.

Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA is performing now under the Big Top at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse until the 26th of May 2024 before it embarks on a national tour to Adelaide from June 9th to July 7th, Perth from July 25th to August 25th, Brisbane from September 25th to November 3rd, and finally Sydney from November 24th to January 27th 2025.

For tickets and more information, including VIP Packages and Seating Upgrade options, please visit the Cirque du Soleil site here:
https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia

Cover photography by Matt Beard, gallery photography by Matt Beard and Luzia Genève.

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