Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cirque du Soleil is Awesome, What's Else is New?


I love Cirque du Soleil. Who doesn't? They are the kings of heavy duty entertainment. These guys will take risks, create dangerous acrobatics numbers, invest millions into producing the most colorful, otherworldly fantasies. Some people read YA literature for escapism, I go to Cirque du Soleil. Sue me. They are also a needless source of inspiration and important lessons when it comes to my own writing. Just kidding. I'm not going to justify going to the show as a necessary activity to my blogging and authorish endeavors, because it wasn't. But I'll say this. It just feels so good for a creative person sometimes to simmer in a crazy fantasy universe, born out of so many great minds. It feels healthy.

Did AMALUNA held up to the always high expectations I had of Cirque du Soleil?

Absolutely.

I don't know if you've seen TOTEM, from last year or if you've seen any Cirque show at all, but here's their M.O. Think of your usual circus numbers, put through a storyline and adapted by the most fearless choreographer to milk out the most spectacle and originality out of it. Insert then some crazy acrobatics you have never seen before and will never see outside this particular show (yesterday, it was shenanigans with a bowl of water) to the sound of LIVE MUSIC. Yes, the music is always original and ALWAYS LIVE. You think you've seen every Seesaw number possible in a Circus? How about a Seesaw with a vertical wall to that the athletes can do parkour on it? That's the kind of crazy stuff that Crique du Soleil comes up with and it's only one of the numbers in AMALUNA.

Unlike TOTEM, there is a coherent storyline to AMALUNA. The show is about paying tribute to women, so I was really curious to see what they could do with such a slippery subject that could go wrong in oh-so-many-ways. It's about an island with only women on it. They live a happy lifestyle until sailors wash ashore. The inclusion of men disturb the balance of their fragile universe and the life on the island is plunger in chaos. The natural reaction would be to kick these men off the island, back where they come front, but you know what happens when both sex collide. Love. That's what happens. And a loving woman is a woman at its best.

If you've seen some Cirque du Soleil before and decide to go see AMALUNA, you will see like me that it's a very bold show. They brought some fresh new talent in Diane Paulus for direction. It's evident that she brings new ideas in. I've seen for the first time musicians being brought into the actual number as characters. It's done in a very organic way. It feels natural. That's the keyword here to describe the innovations of Diane Paulus. She doesn't go against what Cirque du Soleil has been doing for so many years. It feels like natural exploration of the universes they have been creating for so many years.

It's not the most spectacular show they ever produced, but there are some of the prized "Oh-my-God-what's-going-to-happen-if-he/she-falls" moments. It sure is a more cohesive effort than TOTEM *. The balance in between spectacular and fantasy is pretty much spot on. Usually the show director goes for one or the other. Not here.

In conclusion, I really want to stress out how good of a tribute this is to women. There's no confrontational statement being made here and it would've been so easy to made. It would have been SO easy to portray men as idiots, enemies or not include them at all. But AMALUNA falls in none of these traps. Men and women are portrayed as equals, both with inner strength and courage, but being a show about women, they end up saving the day because they had the opportunity to do so and because they are portrayed as those loving and caring creatures who don't hesitate to get in harm's way if necessary.

AMALUNA is destined to be one of Cirque du Soleil's greatest hits, I think. Expect this one to tour for many, many years and reach out to you sooner or later and it's worth every penny.

* Which was really good too, by it's sheer spectacular power, but more like a conventional circus act in its structure.

4 comments:

  1. This does indeed sound awesome. I've seen many a Cirque show ("Love" in Las Vegas is my favorite) and I'm impressed they brought Diane Paulus into the mix. She directed a revival of "Hair" a few years back that was pretty phenomenal. I'm curious to see what she has come up with here. I'll have to check it out when it comes to the N.Y. area.

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  2. Brandon Nagel @bnagel1976April 19, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I saw O in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. I was seated in the front row and was randomly selected from the crowd to be part of the show. A clown dressed like a baby threw me a ball and started calling me Daddy. I was taken back stage, stripped of my clothes, and put in a huge diaper. I was paraded around the stage. It was one of the most surreal and amazing nights of all time. Amazing.

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  3. I’ve never been to see the show live, but I’ve caught it on TV before.

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  4. I've seen one Cirque Du Soleil show at Royal Albert Hall in London. It was truly a wonderful show.

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