If you are a Skytrain commuter on the Expo/ Millennium Line, you would have to be in a world of your own to miss the striking, proud structure of royal blue and sunshine yellow situated between Science World and Stadium China Town Stations. Cirque du Soleil could not have chosen a more beautiful spot to set up camp and as I approached the big top on Tuesday night at Concord Pacific Place, my excitement bubbled to the surface. I had often seen advertisements for Cirque du Soleil events over the years but had never actually attended a show. I was therefore eagerly anticipating attending Amaluna, the world renowned circus troupe’s very first show to contain a narrative.
As I walked into the surprisingly elegant lobby area, my senses were instantly overwhelmed. The sound of happy, well dressed people chattering and laughing ensured a happy welcoming atmosphere. Loud eccentric young men and beautiful women wandered through the gathered groups of people offering canapés and selling candy and drinks. The smell of popcorn wafted through the air and before I knew it, despite having eaten less than an hour beforehand, my plus one for the evening and me were standing before the popcorn stand reaching for our wallets. “No need, popcorn is free tonight.” the sweet lady behind the counter smiled. Thanking her and taking a delicious box of popcorn each, we wandered through the stands to check out the colourful Cirque du Soleil merchandise for sale.
As we eventually made our way to our seats, we remained silent, taking in our surroundings. The colour scheme was of beautiful emerald greens and sea blues. A large round stage was flanked by large black scaffolding beams and a clear, super sized fish bowl glass was situated centre stage. Before long, a creature appeared beside the giant bowl. This creature seemed to be a rather ripped young man, dressed as a lizard. To everyone’s amusement, the lizard creature playfully interacted with audience members, cheekily stealing popcorn and throwing it at others. At one stage, he took a box of popcorn off somebody and without warning climbed to the top of one of the poles situated by the stage. Sitting there, he ate the popcorn, occasionally tossing some down into the audience before eventually throwing the entire box down upon some unsuspecting person’s head.
As the show began, the story of Amaluna introduced us to Prospera, a striking, talented goddess who as Queen, reigns over a beautiful and mysterious island. It became clear that the lizard – whose name was Cali, belonged to Propera’s young, rebellious daughter who is about to celebrate her coming of age ceremony.
One faithful night, a storm, created by Prospera, strikes the island. As a result a ship and its crew become wrecked on its shores. It is here we are introduced to Romeo, a handsome young man whom once she sets eyes on him, Miranda falls instantly in love. What follows is a story of the trials and tribulations of true love under challenging circumstances. Miranda and Romeo must face many testing obstacles before they can truly be together, including the protective force of her magical mother and the jealousy which befalls her half human/ half lizard best friend Cali.
Stunts that drew gasps from the audience included watching the beautiful Moon Goddess swinging from a hoop high in the air by the back of her neck, with no harness to protect her should she fall. Did I mention that she sang beautifully the entire time while throwing herself into one impossible pose after another?
Another act that held us captivated was watching Miranda perform a gymnastic cleansing routine in the giant fish bowl on stage, balancing on the rim of the glass and contorting her body in ways that actually caused my own bones to ache at the thought of attempting anything similar myself. “She’s going to pop a bone!” My plus one hissed in nervous amazement, before Miranda unlocked her limbs and dived gracefully into the water.
A balancing act using nothing but palm tree spines literally had me watching through my fingers and I became mesmerized by a group of extremely handsome, very shirtless sailors as they propelled themselves artistically through the air from a see-saw like plank of wood.
Tightrope walkers, unicyclists, balancing acts and acrobatic gymnasts performed with such talent, grace and fluidity it made me wish I had taken gymnastics classes in school!
The show also held a contemporary edge, which was portrayed in the beautiful modern outfits and the presence of electric guitar playing rock chicks.
Despite the fact that there was little to no dialogue during the entire show, the story of Amaluna, loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is extremely easy to comprehend, thanks of course to the music, the outfits, the stage props and most of all, the onstage spectacle put on by this amazing group. To say they are skilled in their talents would be an absolute understatement and I would highly recommend that everyone, of all ages attend this show, running at Concord Pacific Place until January 20th 2013.
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