As an avid sports fan, there is not a lot that would tear me away from watching Olympics 2016 coverage at the moment, but an invitation to attend Luzia at the Toronto Port Lands was enough to release my gaze from the TV. The dazzling production from Cirque du Soleil surpasses their previous productions by a long shot, incorporating a stunning rain wall that many of the performers incorporate into their performances.
Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia in Toronto examines the history and present day culture of Mexico, with the story line focusing on a traveler entering a dreamlike Mexico. He encounters animals from Mayan mythology, kids playing the country’s favourite sport, football, creatures of the underwater and a dance hall from Mexican cinema. Rain is a predominant theme in Luzia since it is prevalent in Mexico in many forms while animals dominate many segments representing the Mayan belief that humans have animal spirits for protection.
Noting the ties between Canada and Mexico, the opening acts include a female dancer dressed as a Monarch butterfly representing that butterfly’s annual migration from Canada to Mexico. And in a nod to Chinese circus history, Luzia features a segment involving hoop diving. If that isn’t impressive enough, performers jump through the hoops while launching from a treadmill.
An unbelievable contortionist bends his body like a human Gumby into impossible positions.
Incredible male and female football (soccer as we know it) players compete while dancing with a football that seems like an additional appendage.
A production about Mexico wouldn’t be complete without showcasing the country’s vibrant music. Musicians on piano, tuba, trumpet and percussion perform original music by composer Simon Carpentier including cumbia, a dance music popular in Latin America, the flamenco-influenced huapango and the big sound of travelling brass bands synonymous with Mexico.
Giovanna Buzzi’s outstanding costumes run the gamut from multi-coloured hummingbirds, a pink- corseted Mexican cinema star, gorgeous butterfly wings and stunning metallic costumes representing Mexican architecture.
But it’s the aforementioned water curtain that really elevates this production into another strata. Water trickles down from the rafters on to the stage and pools in a mysterious cenote (a sinkhole, which, according to Mayan legend, represents access to the afterlife). Artists splash through the cenote and rain wall while performing their feats. It’s truly magical and the first time that Cirque du Soleil has incorporated a water element into their Big Top show. In fact, there are 4,657 holes to allow the water to drain into the basin under the stage. The water is recycled throughout the run of the show.
This Toronto family-friendly show that leaves you jaw-dropped and wanting more.
Cirque du Soleil Luzia in Toronto is performed at The Grand Chapiteau in Toronto’s Port Lands until October 16, 2016. Run time is approximately two hours with a 20 minute intermission. Tickets are $44-$285; Premium VIP tickets are $295-$305 and can be purchased online.