Cirque du Soleil is bringing its iconic Big Top experience to Orlando for the first time with the show LUZIA!
Cirque du Soleil is coming to Orlando this winter with its delightfully-imaginative and visually-stunning Big Top production LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico – a sumptuous world suspended between dreams and reality. In a series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA takes audiences on a surrealistic journey through a vibrant world filled with wonders, playfulness and striking artistry. Smoothly passing from an old movie set to the ocean to a smoky dance hall or an arid desert, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity. Rich in awe-inspiring moments, LUZIA enchants by incorporating rain into acrobatic and artistic scenes – a first for a Cirque du Soleil touring production.
With mesmerizing and refreshing acrobatic performances, LUZIA brings traditional and contemporary circus disciplines to a whole new level. Cyr Wheel artists perform the unprecedented feat of rolling and spinning under the rain, while an aerialist suspended from a Trapeze flies and twirls through pouring showers. Hoop Diving is taken onto gigantic treadmills, expanding exponentially the speed and amount of daring leaps executed. Jaw-dropping highlights include a male contortionist skillfully twisting his body in the world’s most unimaginable positions, a powerful Aerial Straps specialist defying the laws of gravity at the center of a cenote (natural sinkhole), a juggler tossing seven pins at breakneck speed, and two football (soccer) freestylers deftly mixing street dance with mind-blowing ball manipulation.
THE BIG TOP EXPERIENCE
As of March, local audiences of Orlando are invited for the first time ever to experience a Cirque du Soleil production under its trademark Big Top. Since its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has been presenting traveling Big Top shows all around the world. The overall excitement of going to the circus, the otherworldly atmosphere of the Big Top, as well as its intimate setting elevate the Cirque du Soleil experience. LUZIA is the company’s 17th show to be presented under a Big Top.
WATER AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
In the diversified geography of Mexico, rain is part of the collective consciousness and has a narrative force all its own. Therefore, the creation team of LUZIA decided to integrate the element of water to a Big Top show, a first at Cirque du Soleil, which represented a huge challenge on the artistic and technical sides. Water enabled the creators to take the Cyr Wheel out of its usual context. Two artists perform on the apparatus on water and in the rain, which is, at first glance, unthinkable. In order to solve the adhesion issue, a bicycle tire was mounted on the wheel rim. The water must be filtered, disinfected and maintained at a constant 82˚F for the well-being of the artists. All 1 585 gallons of water used during the performance are recycled for the entire duration of a stay in a given city.
CREATING THE WORLD OF LUZIA
Set Concept – Set Designer Eugenio Caballero had three overriding objectives when he envisioned the LUZIA set. First, he wanted to convey the idea of monumentality and of grandeur commonly associated with Mexico. Second, he wanted to make sure that each spectator would have a great view of all of the acts, regardless of where they are sitting under the Big Top. And third, he set out to create an environment where location and timeline changes would be quick and seamless.
The disk, a symbol of the grandeur of Mexican architecture – The great disk towering above the LUZIA stage, which represents in turn the sun, the moon and the Aztec calendar, pays tribute to some of the most colossal manmade structures in the world. The Teotihuacan archaeological site located 50 km northeast of Mexico City features some of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids in the pre-Columbian Americas, built around 100 C.E.
Eugenio Caballero approached historical-based inspirations in a highly contemporary fashion. The metallic color and texture of the disk is a tribute to the search of pure lines that characterizes contemporary art in Mexico as well as the work of architect Luis Barragán and sculptor Mathias Goeritz.
The huge disk, which rotates horizontally and moves forwards and backwards, undergoes various transformations during the show. The massive object is equipped with a giant light box that turns the disk into the sun or the moon.
A journey inside a Blue Box – It’s impossible to talk about one Mexico, hence the idea of a journey – literally and figuratively speaking – through the multiple places and faces of LUZIA’s imaginary Mexico. This was the starting point for the overall concept of the show: the spectator is taken from an old movie set to the ocean to the semi-desert to an undersea world to a cenote to the jungle to a city alleyway to a dance salon – passing smoothly from an urban setting to the natural world, past to present, tradition to modernity.
To make the idea of a journey through various geographic locations possible, Eugenio needed to create a neutral stage inside the Big Top. He came up with a variation on the black box theatre concept (a simple, somewhat unadorned performance space), which he dubbed the “Blue Box.” The purpose of the blue in the backdrop and on the floor is to enhance the various elements that appear on stage.
When Costume Designer Giovanna Buzzi sat down with the co-authors of LUZIA to imagine the costumes, they decided to steer clear of the folkloric aspects of Mexico and Mexican culture and to avoid potential clichés, especially when it comes to the color palette.
Assigning specific colors to each scene – It is natural to associate Mexico with a mosaic of bright colors. But in order to avoid the pitfalls of turning the stage into a potpourri of colors, the creators chose to build a story in which each scene would have its own distinct color or combination of colors, like the subtle strokes of an artist’s paintbrush. In the Adagio tableau, for instance, a flying woman dons a beautiful pink corset in an otherwise monochromatic environment, while the artists in the Cyr Wheel/Trapeze tableau are clad in yellow hues. The nods to Mexican hues are deliberately subtle. Overall, the show proves to be highly colorful, but iconic colors such as cobalt blue and Mexican pink are not found in their usual contexts.
A noble menagerie – Animals play a prominent role in Mexican lore and mythology, a tradition that carries over into daily life. In LUZIA’s imaginary Mexico, it is no big deal to come across a man with the head of an armadillo, swordfish or iguana, or a crocodile playing the Marimba, or a woman with a hummingbird’s head and wings. At the top of the show, a group of hoop divers are dressed as a flock of colorful hummingbirds. Later on, the Adagio scene unfolds in a strange bar in which a female character is wrapped in an iguana shawl, an ode to the Mexican surrealist movement.
Technology in the service of art – Some of LUZIA’s striking costumes are the result of innovative research and development. A case in point is the dress that “magically” turns from white to red. In order to turn this vision into reality, the people at C:LAB (the creative laboratory of Cirque du Soleil) came up with a clever solution: the dress was fitted with 61 white, individually programmed flowers, each one equipped with a small motor. When the flowers open their petals, they reveal their red interior, thus triggering the metamorphosis. The dress weighs a whopping 16 pounds!
A word about the puppets…
Some of the emblematic animals that inhabit the world of LUZIA appear in the form of life-size puppets such as the horse and the jaguar. With their extraordinary powers of evocation, these creatures have become mythological figures of Mexican culture.
Horses were introduced to Mexico by the Spaniards and adopted by native populations. Revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata’s favorite horse, As de Oro (Ace of Diamonds), and the beautiful chestnut stallion named Siete Leguas (Seven Leagues) that belonged to Revolutionary general Pancho Villa, are part of the Mexican collective consciousness and have inspired many heroic songs.
Music is part of the Mexican soul.
A musical journey – The music of LUZIA takes the audience on an incandescent journey to the heart of the show’s imaginary Mexico. The score whisks spectators away on a voyage of exploration that takes them from a traditional village to a desert by way of a tropical jungle, to the seaside and all the way to an alleyway in a bustling metropolis.
For LUZIA, Composer Simon Carpentier wrote a hot, lively score with distinctive Latin American flavors. A little like the Running Woman – one of the emblematic characters in the show –, the music jumps playfully from style to style, from one rhythm to the next, from emotion to emotion, striding across landscapes as joyfully as across musical boundaries.
Music of a thousand faces – Beyond clichés and stereotypes, the audience hears the buoyant rhythms of cumbia, a music genre close to salsa dominated by guitars, accordions and percussions, as well as the lively rhythms of bandas, the traditional music of traveling brass bands. Simon also drew inspiration from the rich, tonic rhythms of norteño, a popular genre in Northern Mexico, as well as from huapango, a flamenco-based music style from the La Huasteca region along the Golf of Mexico coast.
Music came to Mexico by sea via the neighboring islands, but also from Europe. It is a collage of miscellaneous styles, genres and cultures. Rhythms of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Latin America blend with tribal sounds that dig the roots all the way to the Mayas and the Aztecs.
The music of LUZIA is steeped in this rich mixture – an amalgam of ancient and modern sounds infused with the brassy notes of tubas and trumpets and the suave melodies of the Spanish guitar, all driven forward by the relentless percussion and drums.
Voice “recognition” – In the realm of Latin American music, the voice is a powerful instrument – a vector of emotion, flavors and rhythms boltered by a lively, expressive language. In LUZIA, the vocal parts blend tradition with modernity, with hints of opera, to spread the strong Latin American vibe.
LUZIA will visit Orlando from March 7 to April 21, 2019 and tickets are now on sale at www.cirquedusoleil.com/Luzia.