(photo: Cirque du Soleil)
Luzia, the latest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza, now being presented at Suffolk Downs, is one of the best in this company's history. Premiered in Montreal in 2016, its name is a combination of luz or “light” and Iluvia or “rain”, the two elements at the core of the creation of this show, one of more than three dozen shows in the company's history. This employs some 44 artists from 15 countries under the artistic and creative guidance of Guy Laliberte and Jean-Francois Bouchard, with a core focus on Mexico. Even the colors of the Grand Chapiteau tent reflects these themes, based on the solar system, especially the moon, the sun and the paths of the planets. Briefly referenced are the historical Dia de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” and papel picado cut-outs (as in Pixar's recent Oscar-winning Coco), utilizing some five thousand live marigolds, or cempasuchil, a mainstay of the altars erected on the Day of the Dead, and Mexican wrestling (luchadors, “free style” lucha libre), but most of the show's creations are less traditional. There are mixtures of imaginary Mexico as though waking from a dream, with images from old Mexican movie sets to the ocean to a dance hall to the desert, from urban to natural world , from past to present.
(photo: Cirque du Soliel)
As is typical of many of the company's offerings, there are animals (imaginary) such as the Aztec hummingbirds (the dead returned to life) and Bahlam (the Olmec myth of the Jaguar) and other myths such as Chaak, the Mayan god of rain. The performances include the prologue with a Clown in the desert of Luzia, the Running Woman (Shelli Epstein) and the Butterfly, Hoop Diving, Adagio (another allusion to Mexican films), Cyr Wheel (a large hula hoop) and Dance Trapeze amongst peyote or agave, Clown at the beach, Hand Balancing (Hugo Laffolay), Football Freestyle, Clown with rain, Percussions Parade, Masts and Pole Dance, Swing 360, Jaguar, featuring solo singing by Majo Cornejo, Aerial Straps (Stephen Brine), an Oasis, Juggling (Cylios Pytlak), wondrous Contortionist (Alexsei Goloborodko), Scuba Diving, Swing to Swing, and the Finale Fiesta.
(photo: Cirque du Soleil)
The score's composer is Simon Carpentier (with elements of salsa-like cumbia, bandas or brass band, flamenco-like huapango and Norteno from Northern Mexico). The entire production is under Director Daniele Finzi Pasca's elegant care, with Set and Prop Design by Eugenio Caballero, Costume Design (including a dress that turns from white to red flora) by Giovanna Buzzi, Puppet Design by Max Humphries, Lighting Design by Martin Labreque, Projection Design by Johnny Ranger, Sound Design by Jacques Boucher and Choreography by Barata, Debra Brown, and Sylvia Getrudix Gonzales. Along the way there are crocodile heads, an iguana shawl, a cockroach, a grasshopper, an armadillo, a snake, several swordfish, some tuna heads, and two giant treadmills. They portray the performance's main themes of the monumental, speed, rain and surreal menagerie (including the spirit of the animal in the human from birth, or nagual). This production includes the best lighting and projection design ever offered by the company, as well as the finest clown, a consummate mime by the appropriate name of Eric Fool Koller from the Netherlands. It also presented a cast of international athletes that undoubtedly have never let their gym memberships expire.
It was a sublime visual experience with frequent reminders of what our southern neighbors have contributed to our culture over the ages, and continue to do despite the unfounded hysterical rants by our country's current politicians in power. It was a different kind of power on display, the sort that transcends bigotry and ignorance. Viva Mexico!
So go ahead. It's a sure bet; until August 10th, as the cast says online, “lose ya'self”.