Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia Predicts Breathtaking Color, Characters, Acrobats, and Lots of Rain – All Under the Big Top
By: Ellis Nassour
May 8, 2019: Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia: A Walking Dream of Mexico, under the white and gold big top adjacent to Citi Field in Queens through at least June 9, is the company’s 38th original production since 1984, and its 17th show presented under the tent. Luzia is a bold, lively, and stunningly visual escape to an imaginary Mexico – a surrealistic journey through a world suspended between dreams and reality. Luz is Spanish for light.
There’re dazzling effects never before seen in a tent show, lithesome acrobats in jaw-dropping feats, and gorgeous costumes. Every fiesta must have a mariachi band – this one is uniquely made up of alligators, an armadillo, and a boa constrictor. The cast of characters include a skeleton of a prehistoric woman unearthed in Brazil and a tall, skinny, and very thirsty visitor [the comic relief] who literally drops out of the sky when his parachute doesn’t open and lands in an arid desert.
For a cirque with a reputation of not using live animals, there’re plenty in the form of a gigantic silver steed, a seemingly tame jaguar [both manipulated by puppeteers], a Komodo dragon and huge, exotic birds.
The standout of the fast-paced, two-hour show is something you’ve never experienced before: a lluvia (rain) curtain that quenches the spirit and soothes the soul by drenching the enormous butterfly in the persona of trapeze daredevil Enya White; and the two spinning in giant hoops or Cyr Wheels. There’s not only rain but also a pool for the long-haired, heavily-tattooed aerialist — a Mayan demigod of rain — defying the laws of gravity flying through the air on silk straps.
Rain is part of the collective consciousness of Mexico and has a narrative force all its own. The integration of water in a traveling show represented huge technical challenges. Luzia’s resident artistic director Gracie Valdez explained that precautions has to be put in place to protect the cast of 46 and the support team of 150 from electric shock. Some 1,595 gallons-worth, descends from a circulating bank composed of nearly 200 individually-controlled nozzles. She informed that the water is filtered, disinfected, and recycled. It’s maintained at 82˚F. The rain curtain allows one of the WOW! sequences that has audiences gasping as all manner of graphics are projected on it.
The show is rich in other memorable moments, which include undoubtedly the fastest juggler in the world moving at airplane propeller speed, hoop divers performing on a speeding treadmill, acrobats thrown into the air from enormous swings and doing double and triple somersaults, trapeze daredevils, hand-balancing, and not for the faint-of-heart or squeamish, perhaps, the skinniest contortionist ever twisting his body in unimaginable positions, even knots.
Luzia “guide” is Guy Laliberte, with Jean-François Bouchard as “creative guide.” The show is co-written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca with Julie Hamelin Fizi as co-writer. Associate director is Brigitte Poupart and Patricia Ruel is director of creation. Costumes are by Giovanna Buzzi. Max Humphries is the puppet designer. Composer and music director is Simon Carpentier.
Citi Field is accessible via the IRT 7 train to Queens’ Mets-Willets Point station. If you arrive by car, there’s a $25 parking fee. Tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia are $54-$195. VIP packages include the Hennessy Black VIP Experience, $275 – open bar, hors d’oeuvres inspired by the show, premium seating, and free parking. For more information about CduS, Luzia, directions to Citi Field, hospitality packages, schedules, Behind-the-Scene passes (backstage tour, artists meet & greet), and to purchase tickets, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia. Partners and sponsors are Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and Mexico tourism.
Cirque du Soleil Luzia photos by Matt Beard