Written By: Taylor R Haynes
Photographs Provided By: Lucas Rossi of Lucas Rossi Photography
Photographer: Matt Beard / 2016 Cirque du Soleil
Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi Cirque du Soleil LUZIA
The upcoming Cirque du Soleil show, LUZIA, captures a surreal interpretation of Mexico’s vibrant, multi-faceted culture. The first Cirque show to focus in on one country specifically, LUZIA incorporates acrobatics and dance to illustrate a dazzling story of adventure and imagination.
Written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, in association with Brigitte Poupart, LUZIA will be at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles from Dec. 8 to Jan. 21. It will then move to the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa from Feb. 21 to March 18. There are 44 performers and over 20 countries represented in the production, creating a diverse cast with a wide set of skills to impress audiences. This global community, which has come to represent Cirque, work together seamlessly to produce one of the most technically complicated Cirque shows to date.
“The directors and the creators took careful time to be authentic,” says Gracie Valdez, LUZIA’s artistic director. “We have a lot of symbolism that may not be well known—it’s not cliched. It’s very classy and subtle, but it all stems back to culture, mystery and mythology.”
Small details make all the difference. The setting for the show is integral to its success, and with an imaginative and resourceful set design, the audience is transported to an arid desert, a tropical cenote and a rejuvenating rainstorm. All the while, the performers are working in synergy with the changing environment—the stage and accompanying props move, while rain literally pours down—making their acts even more impressive.
“We try to artistically play with the water—it’s more of a character than a set element,” says Francis Jalbert, LUZIA’s press director. “Without giving too much away, at some point in the show the water is used to create different patterns. Everybody gets chills—it’s really quite fanciful.”
The element of water combined with that of light—quite similar to sunshine pouring through a humid, tropical forest—is central to LUZIA’s interpretation of Mexico. This artistic choice, explains Jalbert, is made with the changeable equatorial weather in mind.
“If you go to Mexico, in particular the Yucatan Peninsula, water is very unpredictable,” Jalbert says. “You could be dry and then be drenched in the rain. The director wanted to incorporate rain and the different ways it is experienced on a trip through Mexico.”
During one act, acrobat Angelica Bongiovonni spins across the stage, suspended in the cyr wheel—a sort of wide, structured hula hoop—in a deluge of rain. It is one of the most breathtaking moments in the show.
Bongiovonni circles the stage as she twirls dizzyingly. The movement is so fluid, so organic, that one might assume dancing with a cyr wheel is easy. But Bongiovanni, who previously was a trapeze acrobat before taking on the wheel due to an injury, describes the sheer strength and focus it takes to successfully use the wheel. “It’s a lot of pushing outwards and [applying] the pressure to stay in,” says Bongiovonni. “With the wheel, you always have to be active and change around where your center of gravity is.”
Los Angeles is the perfect location for Luzia. The show’s celebration and reflection of Mexican culture speaks to the city’s Latin American roots and heritage. Bongiovonni and Valdez both hail from Los Angeles.
“I’m looking forward to being home, bringing this show to my hometown,” says Valdez. “I think the Latin American community in Los Angeles is prevalent and important. The show is for everybody, and we want everyone to be able to celebrate [Mexico’s] culture.”
This sentiment reflects the complexity of Mexican culture. There are aspects of LUZIA and of Mexico that are somber and uplifting and everywhere in between. It celebrates and captures the essence of the people and the stories they tell, as well as the diverse natural geography of the country.
Anyone with familiarity or curiosity about Mexican culture will enjoy LUZIA. The show—which combines advanced technology, storytelling, and impressive human strength—is sure to impress the entire family.
Native Knowledge: Make sure to plan ahead to account for traffic times. Parking is $25 at the stadium. Buses 2 and 4 both have stops at Vin Scully Way which is a short walk to the stadium. Buy your tickets here.
1000 Vin Scully Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
OC Fair and Event Center
88 Fair Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Celebrate Mexican Culture at LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil