By Jeffrey Cohen
Hard to believe, but Cirque du Soleil is now your father’s circus. After decades of astounding audiences of all ages, the Quebec-birthed troupe operates with military precision in delivering productions that defy expectations while making jaws drop. Their 38th original show, Luzia, plays under the big top at Flushing’s CitiField through June 9, 2019.
Luzia delivers a steady pageant of colorful costumes, vibrant colors, and “what can they do next” mentality with the talented corps of acrobats, trapeze artists, and clowns. Though they would protest to the nth extreme, storyline in Cirque du Soleil takes a back seat to the magnificence of the performances. Subtitled “A Waking Dream of Mexico,” the show switches from earth tones (luz / light in spanish) to ocean pastels (rain / lluvia) at the drop of a water curtain.
Eliminating elephants and other jungle creatures helped move Ringling Brothers and other large touring circus troupes into obsolescence. Now the days of dogs hopping on their back legs and horses parading in lockstep are quickly becoming an anachronism. Human beings are the preferred building blocks of Cirque du Soleil. “Luzia” starts with a bevy of hoop divers, betrothed as a flock of birds on a conveyer belt. The story progresses to cyr wheels (oversized hula hoops that engulf the performers), pole dancers (you want your kids to achieve on these poles), aerial straps, Russian swings, and an astounding contortionist (Aleksei Golobrodko) whose flexibility appears nearly limitless.
Luche (Mexican professional wrestling) plays an ornamental part of the action. Clearly the Canadian management of Cirque need to view some YouTube footage of current luche libre performers who defy gravity in their matches, and not just in achieving a 360-degree arc on a big swing, although it is pretty damn impressive.
Offsetting the pageantry of “Luzia” is that water curtain – created with a 3,500 hundred litre water tank tethered above the Big Top, a 3,000 litre pool in the center of the stage, and all the connecting piping and tubing that connects the system. Water that cascades through the curtain filters back to a truck where it is cleaned and recycled, then pumped back to complete the trek once more. When the pipes are intricately timed, the water curtain produces imagery such as deer, fish, clouds, and whales. Prepare to hear shrieks of amazement from grown men and women, as well as children.
Cirque du Soleil has many touring companies and “Luzia” is debuting in New York after fine-tuning in other tent-hosting venues around the world. The organization is indeed a group of professionals seeking to return attendees to the wonderment of childhood at every performance. There’s a giant key at the center of “Luzia” and it just might be in the heart of everyone in the audience at CitiField this month.

Photo Credit: Matt Beard / Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi / 2016 Cirque du Soleil

Tickets for New York City performances of “Luzia” at CitiField are available online at starting at $54.