BWW Review: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S AMALUNA at The Grand Chapiteau At Lone Star Park

Birdsong fills the air inside the blue-lined big-top. An island tableau, awash in blue and green hues, backs larger than life sea grass and kelp-mobiles lazily twirling over audience’s heads. Masters in the art of the pre-show, comedia del arte clowns enrapture the crowds with their hilarious characterizations and interactive antics. A matronly woman shoos peacocks and lizards from her stoop, the lizards in turn create havoc knocking popcorn into patrons laps and licking phone screens signaling it is time to engage in the space. One lone tribal drummer pounds out a beat enticing the crowds to join in the thrum of the island people.

Cirque du Soleil is an untouchable performance arts force. Drawing from a veritable cornucopia of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic mediums, their most recent tour dubbed Amaluna is an impeccable display. Directed by Diane Paulus, the narrative follows an island of goddesses, gymnasts, and gypsies. This oasis is peaceful, but for the fair maiden it is a listless life led. A shipwreck of men turns the tale, as they are tested by warriors, tempted by sirens, tested by warriors, and read by soothsayers.

Pitch black, a single light and our show begins as a council of the women inhabiting the island convene. A single scarf cleverly caught in the crosswinds of stage fans emulates an eerie, mystical fabrication of fire. The tribal council cascades in modern movements across the stage–such precision and execution; several times it appears that performers may collide only to turn at the last moment and deftly slip by. Hand symbols akin to those utilized in Indian dance form Bharata Natyam indicate a language spoken among the indigenous people of this isle. A maiden of the island is enveloped into the flame and the tale begins.

Suddenly the all metal girl band surrounds the stage, as straps artists rage and swirl in a tempest among the rafters inside the Grand Chapiteau. Like waves crashing against the cliffs, these three women careen forcefully throughout the space. At times, their passes appear to narrowly miss audience members heads! Music seething, this high flying trio ushers in the chaotic crash simulated by the men reeling across the stage in a cocoon of fishing net.

A lone cellist, channeling a kind and motherly character, guides the men through the marshes. Encountering swans and reptilian pole climbers akin to those in MOMIX’S "Opus Cactus," the men are ushered in by a lone lyra acrobat. This slight wisp of a woman, swirling high over center stage in her titanium hoop, bends and flexes into unimaginable shapes as she welcomes the weary sailors into the isle.

The women proceed to test and tempt the men, showcasing their weaponry and magical skills. But the crux of the story is centered around the maiden finding love in a strapping shipwrecked crew member. As the plot progresses they further explore the island, their love, and their limits.

Amaluna is astounding in its thoroughly constructed production. Every detail has been attended to. The cacophony of the all metal girl band is tucked neatly upstage, sirens cantering throughout the theater in the round. Cellos and drums are interspersed into the set, while guitarists and bass players minstrel the scenes. The music seems so simple, yet it seamlessly backs the feats of strength and beauty. The state of the art hydraulic stage as well as the brilliant, functional costumes create a truly magical display.

There is no feasible way to convey the sheer artistry and effort that it takes to create a showcase of this magnitude. And of all the Cirque shows I have had the pleasure of seeing, I feel that Amaluna above all celebrates and demonstrates the power of women. Not until the second act are the men truly utilized as featured performers, and even then the women shine brightest in a myriad of complex maneuvers.

Don’t miss out on this sensational display-Amaluna is sure to tantalize audiences of all ages! Playing Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie Dallas,Tx January 23, 2019 – March 3, 2019. Tickets and special tour packages may be purchased at https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna.

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Nikki Bolton