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unicycles

Electric guitars, a dancer suspended in the moon, and golden unicycles. And so begins Cirque du Soleil’s latest production, Amaluna.

The story unfolds in the wake of a storm caused by Prospera. A group of young men lands on the island, setting the stage for an emotional love story between Prospera’s daughter and a brave young suitor. But theirs is a love that will be put to the test. The couple must face numerous demanding trials and overcome daunting setbacks before they can achieve mutual trust, faith, and harmony.

No Cirque production would be complete without an array of performers that work their way into the audience and make merry before and during the show. I’m happy to report that this one’s also filled with such moments.

Uneven Bars

The lighting, costumes, and props are magnificent. From one act to another, they can all vary from shades of green, blue, and gold to deep reds, oranges, and purples.

Cirque du Soleil is known for its incredibly colourful and detailed costumes and Amaluna is no exception. Inspired by Asia Minor, the corseted costumes of the Amazon warriors are augmented with ponytails and high-heeled black and red leather boots in a look that is more fantasy than historical reality. Amaluna’s world also includes costumed half-human, half-animal characters, lizards, peacocks and fairies.

I love how the musical instruments are incorporated into the production. Sound travels seductively through the tent as lights move and balance between the performers, almost dancing with them at times.

Amaluna stage

Scott Pask’s set creates a mysterious, lush, and enchanted island whose most important feature is a carefully crafted forest of bamboo-like branches that both frame and surround the action.

I was particularly impressed with the ceiling carousel, designed and engineered by Amaluna’s Montreal staff. This concept machine can pull five or six artists in different directions at one time, and seems to move with large, intricate ball bearings.

The piece is entirely supported by the four masts in the tent. A couple of years ago, I was invited to watch the grand chapiteau erected for Kooza, and to imagine that these components are part of the tent is amazing. It’s a unique piece of equipment that you’ll want to watch if you can peel your eyes away from the colourful action on stage.

An electric guitarist on stage in a long purple robe with its collar turned up is reminiscent of Prince, if Prince was to run away and join the Cirque that is.

clowns

In between the awe-inspiring acts, it’s fun time for the kiddies featuring a clown and her buccaneer lover running amok on stage. I imagine that past the little one’s bedtime, this is a light way to keep them engaged for the evening.

Aerial Hoop and Water Bowl
[Marie-Michelle Faber and Iuliia Mykhailova: Aerial Hoop and Water Bowl]

I won’t spoil the show by giving away too much, but stand-out performances include Lara Jacobs‘ Manipulation, Marie-Michelle Faber and Iuliia Mykhailova’s Aerial Hoop and Water Bowl performance (where Amaluna morphs into Aqualuna), and Viktor Kee’s Juggling. I guarantee that you haven’t seen juggling like this before!

Manipulation
[Lara Jacobs: Manipulation]

Amaluna world-premiered in Montreal on April 19, 2012 and will continue in Vancouver through December 30 at Concord Pacific Place in Vancouver.

All photos courtesy of Laurence Labat.

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