It has always been a magical endeavor, eliciting oohs and ahhs, seeing a Cirque du Soleil tent going up in Los Angeles ever since those incredible first shows at Santa Monica Pier back in the nineties. The troupe has relocated to Dodger Stadium in recent years and this week saw a spectacular premiere of the 41st CDS production called VOLTA. Packed with non-stop thrills and chills, VOLTA is an exuberant and exhilarating callback to Cirque’s street theatre roots. The theme is one of self-acceptance and a celebration of the uniqueness of the individual.
It is the story of Waz, who kicks off the night by competing in the show within the show, a talent competition hosted by Mr. Wow, in a rapidfire opening number full of heart-pumping acts. Waz is a beautiful dancer who wows the crowd with his moves but is then revealed to have blue feathers for hair, something he keeps hidden from the world. He flees in fear and eventually meets the free spirit, Ela, who shows him a world full of misfits and street freaks, all embracing their unique gifts.
It’s a clever way of featuring these astonishing acts that are all extraordinary including a pair of twin-like men flying overhead in a gorgeous bungee duet, a breathtaking hand-balancing act on a unicycle featuring Philippe Belanger, head-spinning diabolo by Enmeng Song, and the absolutely exquisite Vanessa Ferreira Calado’s hair suspension number that had the people around me screaming with delight.
Weaved in between are scenes of Waz retreating to his safe “box” where he watches old 8-millimeter home movies of himself as a child, playing joyfully with his mother. Pawel Walczewski performs a death-defying aerial number on a ceiling fixture “as Waz” and Rosina Gil beautifully dances the part of his mother alongside a child version of Waz on a BMX bike.
The actor/clowns are always strong in cirque shows and in Volta, Andrey Kislitsin has the honor and delivers hilarious multi-layered comedy in a laundromat full of strange washing machines and an incredibly clever beach scene.
As always, the music is front and center with melancholy yet somehow celebratory French electronic music by Anthony Gonzalez, sung powerfully by Eric DeShan and violin-playing Camilla Backman.
Gradually our hero begins to embrace his blue feathers for what they are, beautiful and unique, and Joey Arrigo infuses Waz with a passion that plays out in a staggering piece at the end that was nothing short of breathtaking.
Dance fans will rejoice at the amount of lush choreography throughout the show. It’s an emotional journey that this troupe invites you to take and one has the impression from the opening moments to the final triumphant finale that they’ve got you covered; when you enter their tent, you’re all circus freaks together and it’s a beautiful thing!
Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA, performs under the Big Top at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles through March 8, 2020. Tickets, starting at $49, are available for purchase by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/volta or calling 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).