Last night I attended the opening of Cirque du Soleil's Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico at Marymoor Park. Here until May 21st, Luzia is really is a beautiful show. Given the reputation of Cirque du Soleil you know it is going to be a good show, and I think people really trust that they will find something to like about their evening, so they come to the experience open-minded, in a mood to trust and enjoy themselves. There is something for everyone to love in Luzia. I saw it with my husband on a rare night out without our four children and we had a great time, but I could also see us having a great time with our kids at Luzia.
About a month ago I had been invited to participate in a media day to have the chance to interview team members of the Luzia production- Mark Shaub, the artistic director of Luzia, and Kelly McDonald, who is not only the talented flyer at the center of the "Adagio."act but also the co-creator of the act itself, and owner of some killer biceps.
The 20 minutes of interview time flew by, carried along by Ms. McDonald's enthusiasm for her work and by Mr. Shaub's thoughtful insights as the person responsible for overseeing the quality of the performance on what makes a production like Luzia so appealing to such a wide demographic. I encourage you to visit FreshJess to read more from the interview.
Mr. Mother of Style and I arrived about an hour before the show was to begin and headed into the entrance tent where we found a very festive atmosphere with lovely performance vignettes taking place around the space- the artist Henry painting, and Spanish guitar players making the music for salsa dancing with a luchador,
Once we made our way to our seats in the Big Top, the atmosphere inside continued to lull us into the rhythm of the waking dream of Mexico. The air was pleasantly warm, lots of happy, chattering people in their seats. There were little robots watering the marigolds on stage. A man strolled down the stage strumming a guitar while acrobats dressed as hummingbirds stretched and fluttered on minor scaffolding in the seating area. I love hummingbirds and feed them year round, so I really enjoyed this group of performers and their subsequent act of hoop diving on a industrial-sized treadmill.
The scenes of Luzia are strung together by the appearances of a parachuting clown, He plays ball, he is thirsty, he finds funny things to do that pull the audience along into the next scene. Here he interacts with the talented songstress of Luzia, and discovers what the flowers on her dress are capable of when the flower she gives him blooms suddenly:
One of the highlights of the evening for me was the "Cyr Wheel and Trapeze" performance. These are the first thoughts that went through my mind:
- Those are big hula hoops. Big, fast hula hoops.
- How do they avoid rolling over their fingers where they are holding on?
- Look at those cacti in the back. I could do that- finally I could be in Cirque du Soleil! But wait, your arms must get tired holding them up that long- maybe I could be the Saguaro??
I was to be disabused of thought #3 later in the show when the cacti take part in the Clown Scuba Diving... it isn't as easy to be a cactus as I imagined, but it is fun to dream!
Back to the Cyr Wheel act: it was really spectacular. The idea of performing on a trapeze in dry air seems impressive, but in rain it's really super human. It's an intimidating idea but if you live in the Pacific Northwest you might also find this act resonates when you consider how much rain we have seen these last few months- I think I read something like this year has the most rainfall since they began tracking our rainfall in the 1850? So, if anybody knows you can't let a little water stop you, it's Washingtonians. "Liquid sunshine" is a part of our very fiber just as in Luzia, where they stress that rain is part of Mexican cultural consciousness and as such, an important vehicle for story-telling.
I could go on and on...the sophisticated horse and jaguar puppetry, the dazzling juggling and the engaging soccer scene. The running Monarch butterfly woman. The symbolism woven throughout the show, the winks and nods to Mexican cultural figures. The fantastic music, which if you like it, you can visit the Cirque du Soleil website to find a link to download a free song from the Luzia album via iTunes. There are also lots of good-quality photos on GeekWire's coverage of the evening.
Unfortunately, during the penultimate scene of Luzia, one of the artists was hurt during the Swing to Swing set, when she landed on her back. It had been an electrifying segment, and you could feel how charged up the cast was to perform that night. The space fell quiet as she was attended to by medical staff and given encouragement by her fellow performers. I read that she will be okay, and I join many others in wishing her a speedy recovery.
After that, the final scene was a little subdued, understandably. The big top holds 2,600 people and we had been through a thrilling evening that had a not so thrilling end, where you are trying to reconcile the exhilaration coursing through your body with the concern for someone who had just been hurt while performing in such a fun evening. Being hurt is not fun. It was a reminder that what the performers of Luzia do is not just exciting but can also be truly dangerous, and that the strength and artistry needed to make it look so easy is not to be underestimated.
What they are doing is real and that makes it even more incredible because Luzia is not just tricks with lights: It is a waking dream.