Cirque du Soleil Volta has come to the Pacific Northwest and is performing at Marymoor through Nov 4! Fourteen previous times the famous Canadian entertainers have performed their fabulous acrobatics for Washingtonians, but this visit will be something special. This new show brings all the excitement you would expect from Cirque du Soleil, but is much more than your typical circus display.
You are transported the moment you come in vicinity of the area. The enormous tent is visible even as you approach the location, and towers higher and higher as you walk towards the ticket booth. Upon entering you are deluged with color from the gift shops and drink displays, and going inside the performance tent you are amazed again to gaze upon over 2000 people waiting to see the show with you.
The storyline presented is that of a young man named Waz, who takes part in a talent show as a dancer, but is ostracized by society when it’s revealed he possesses bright blue hair. This shunning forces him to introvert and hide both what he looks like and his gift in dancing, because they both are indicators of how he is different in public.
The citizens he is amongst are presented in clothing with grey, black, and white dominating their colors. They also move together as one homogeneous unit, never making eye contact and frequently focusing their activities on what are clearly meant to be cell phones. It takes a separate element of society to allow him to appreciate his gift, and not be ashamed of what makes him different from the rest.
One word keeps getting repeated throughout the show, and it’s “wow,” a very appropriate exclamation for this kind of entertainment. The performers are full of energy with every trick and stunt they perform, and in conjunction with the big scale it makes their falls and bounces that much more intense and gripping to see.
You do get the traditional acts you would expect from a circus, like the trapeze hanging, aerial ribbons, trampoline jumps, and gymnastics. But this particular show puts more of an emphasis on extreme sports, with displays of lightning fast jump rope, death defying bungee jumping, roller skating, BMX style bicycling, and even acrobatics while suspended from their hair! It’s stunning to see up close, and you’re almost always on the edge of your seat.
But the show is well paced, it knows when to ramp up the visuals for the audience, and when to calm the action down for the beautiful quieter moments. The dancing here is elegant, deliberate, and moving, especially in the climactic moments when Waz finally embraces who he is and dances all his cares away. There’s even great moments of levity, particularly in the form of two comedy scenes starring Mr Wow himself, that absolutely steal the show. They might not have much to do with the narrative being told, but it is great fun watching one man get so caught up just trying to do something as simple as doing the laundry.
Visually, it’s equally impressive. There’s some of the most extraordinary costuming I’ve ever seen onstage. Zaldy Coco outdoes himself by spreading colors abound. This is especially used to contrast the mass society view with the new exciting group that is clad in rainbow clothing, encouraging Waz to not be afraid to be himself.
However, the greatest strength of the show is undoubtedly the musical soundtrack by Anthony Gonzalez. It’s the emotional anchor to all the action, and guides you through the experience of Waz’s journey. The story to the show is simplistic and vague, and as an audience member you might find that frustrating. But the story is a backdrop for these fabulous stunts and the gorgeous music, and those elements are the true focus of this production. With unique instrumentation, swooping emotional depth and tremendous vocals, even if you can’t make it to the show, I can’t urge you to get the soundtrack today more strongly!
For anyone who’s never seen Cirque du Soleil, this is a great introduction to their wild performances. Even for those who are familiar with their work, it’s a show you don’t want to miss. From the beginning you’re enthralled, and by the end you’re filled with adrenaline from watching the performers. A story celebrating expression and freedom, combined with the greatest circus performers in the world makes for a show without equal. For tickets, go to their website at www.cirquedusoleil.com/Seattle/Volta.