Cirque du Soleil’s latest show, Kooza, confirmed my previous thoughts – circus acrobats wanting the biggest cheers should perform the most dangerous feats!
While death defying acts such as The Double High Wire and the Wheel of Death scored the greatest audience reaction on the opening night of the show in Melbourne, I am sure all other feats performed are just as dangerous and require similar levels of skill.
I know I wouldn’t want to perform handstands on a dozen unsupported chairs like Yao Deng Bo. Neither would I want to be juggled by a man (Yury Shavro) on a unicycle as Olga Tutynina is nor swing from an aerial ring high above the stage like Marie-Eve Bisson.
According to Cirque, Kooza is a return to the company’s origins, combining the two circus traditions of acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. As such the show features plenty of both. There’s also dancing, including an impressive skeleton dance and even a drum solo from Australian drummer, Paul Butler.
While I haven’t seen enough shows to compare Kooza with other productions, Kate, my companion for the night, has seen countless Cirque shows all around the world. She thought Kooza’s staging, costumes and music were even better than the last couple of shows to tour Australia.
It’s easy to see why. The staging is imaginative and the costumes varied and colorful. The music allows the band of six musicians and two singers – Lisa Marie Ramey and Alessandra Gonzalez – to present their varied and very impressive musical skills.
Like most in the audience we both gave top marks to those acts which seemed the most dangerous. These included the Double High Wire which featured two high wires suspended 5 metres and 8 metres above the stage. Four artists – Vincente Quiros Dominguez and Roberto Quiros Dominguez from Spain and Brayhan and Flouber Sanchez from Colombia – showed such skills as jumping, fencing and riding bikes on these wires.
Then there was the Wheel of Death, which was my favourite act of the night. The 700 kilogram wheel was powered by Jimmy Ibarra and Ronald Solis from Colombia who undertook some pretty amazing moves both within and above the wheel’s two spokes.
The third `shut your eyes and hope the performers don’t fall’ act was The Teeterboard. A giant see-saw flung acrobats into the air where they performed numerous spectacular moves which gradually increased in difficulty. This act features the other Australian in the show, acrobat Laura Kmetko.
My other favourite acts of the night didn’t seem as death defying (although I could be wrong) but all looked extremely difficult. Mongolian contortionists Odgerel Byambadorj and Sunderiya Jargalsaikhan moved their bodies in ways that should not be possible. The same could be said Irina Akimova’s skill with a hula hoop!
Clowning, the other major component of Kooza, is provided by three clowns – Ghislain Ramage (France), Miguel Berlanga (Spain) and Michael Garner (USA). I have to admit I’m not a fan of clowns, especially in acts that involve members of the audience. However there were plenty of laughs from other members of the audience and Kate thought they were amongst the best Cirque clowns she had seen.
As is the case with other Cirque shows, I also struggled to understand the show’s storyline which is said to: “Follow The Innocent as he takes a journey of self-discovery through a comic kingdom of eccentric characters, electrifying thrills and out-of the-box surprises.”
However I could see, appreciate and enjoy some amazing acts of agility, balance and daring from a cast of extremely talented and enthusiastic acrobats and musical performers from all corners of the world. And that’s the joy of any Cirque show.
Cirque Du Soleil’s Kooza is on at Flemington Racecourse until March 26. It then opens in Perth on April 13. Visit the Cirque website for more information and tickets.
*Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Kooza as a guest of Cirque du Soleil.
Visit travelswithjb.com.au-live shows for more live show reviews.
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