Published: March 8, 2014
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BACK TO ITS ROOTS!
Cirque du Soleil's tribute to the tradition of the Circus... in a box!
Cirque Du Soleil has returned to its roots with Koozå, in a tribute that reignites the traditions from which its fame originated. Sheer human effort - performance in its rawest, purest form - is showcased in all its splendour. Amazing, death-defying acrobatics, which highlight the physical demands of human performance, while presenting a colourful mixture that emphasizes bold slapstick humour and sends you on a bizarre journey of circus nostalgia. It allows you to rekindle the memories and emotions associated with circuses of old, and brings together two century-old circus traditions - acrobatics and the art of clowning.
who wrote and directed the show, said:
"Koozå is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad. The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn't take itself too seriously, but it's very much about ideas too."
The name Koozå is inspired by the Sanskrit word which means 'treasure' or 'box' and was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a 'Circus in a Box'. However, The Magical Trickster dressed in a candy-striped suit of many colours and who possesses god-like powers, is the only character that can release this Pandora-like box of magic.
Koozå is set in an electrifying and exotic world of visual surprises and tells the story of The Innocent, a naïve but charming, melancholy clown, striving to find his own place in the world. Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, the show explores themes of fear, identity, recognition and power and brings The Innocent into contact with a panoply of comic characters.
The Innocent, is led through Koozå by The Magical Trickster, the creator of this mysterious land. Meeting numerous characters along the way, The Innocent searches for his place in the world until he uses The Trickster's powers and discovers this confusing, but dazzling world on his own terms.
Koozå, costing $15 million to produce, premiered in Montréal, Canada in April 2007. It has brought wonder and delight to around 4 million spectators in North America and Japan, before arriving in Europe. Normally the show is presented in The Big Top,
which stands at 66 feet high and is 167 feet in diameter, can accommodate about 2,500 people and travels from city-to-city in more than 60 trailers.
However, at the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London, where Koozå kicked off its European tour in January 2013, the theatre was transformed into a Big Top. From London the show has continued its successful tour to Belgium, Russia, France, The Netherlands, Austria, Spain and is presently on in Germany.
The centerpiece of the stage is a travelling tower, dubbed the Bataclan. It houses the band and singers and alters the configuration of the performance space as it moves. It also serves as an entrance point for the performers and is flanked by two curved staircases. The decoration for the Bataclan is inspired by Hindu culture, Pakistani buses and Indian jewellery. Overlooking it is a giant red-curtained structure called The Void, which unwraps like the billows of a maharajah's tent. The surface of the stage is decorated to look like a starry sky and in the centre ring there is a graphic representation of the sky in Montreal on the night of the first public performance.
The former Artistic Director and SBF Member, Michael G. Smith said: "Koozå has a huge multinational team of 53 performers. We carry more artists then we use in the show. I will use everyone in the show, but I don't use them for any specific act. Audiences come with very high expectations, so if we have injuries and accidents, which of course we do as it's dangerous stuff, the quality of the show can't go down because of that."
The music of Koozå beautifully demonstrates the spirit of the live show with its themes of human connection and fun. With a stream of uplifting songs with timeless influences, where forms and styles intertwine seamlessly, the music of Koozå is inspired by the sounds of western pop culture, from 1970s funk to full orchestral arrangements. It also draws heavily on traditional Indian music and film scores of the 1940s and 1950s.
The 19 artists of the House Troupe burst into action, combining acrobatics, rapid-fire costume changes and rebounds from three miniature trampolines set in the stage. The act highlights include human pyramids, bodies flying through the air and a "crash bash" - a daring dive into a circle of fabric inspired by the "Nalukauq," the traditional Inuit game of "Blanket Toss" and the landing mats used by fire-fighters.
A trio of Asian women work in harmony and unison to bring a new approach to the art of contortionism. What sets this number apart is the artists' innovations in movements and position, their speed, the fluid ease and the way they work as a team so that their bodies intermingle and become one to create a tableaux of sculptural beauty that flows from one geometric pose to another. It's art; it's liquid sculpture.
The trapeze is installed stage left to stage right - a Cirque-created innovation, but the act goes beyond the stage setting and the artist's display of physical mastery. When The Trickster breaks into the act, his interaction with the acrobat creates a drama which adds even more dynamic undertones to the visual thrills and delights, caused by the clash of their personalities.
A dance of two lovers on a unicycle. This is a twist on the classic unicycle number that introduces a passenger to the action. The two performers create a pas de deux in constant motion around the stage in a combination of balance, acrobatic control, physical strength, choreographic grace and a spirit of partnership.
Double High Wire
The twin high wires are suspended 15 and 25 feet above the stage, and the four tightrope walkers add their own tension to the 6,600-pound load on each rope. Their expert ability allows them to perform feats in the air that most people would find difficult to do on the ground. The Quiros family perform this act and they have been doing high wire for six generations.
Act Two opens with The Innocent accidentally summoning a troupe of fancy and glamorous, merrily dancing skeletons with a wand. The music pays tribute to 1950s Hollywood. The "skeletons" dance to swing rhythms while a sultry and soulful vocal is provided by Cinda Ramseur.
Wheel of Death
The pièce de résistance is the 1,600-pound Wheel of Death which consists of two gigantic hamster wheels that revolve at either end of a steel axle. It’s powered only by two artists, dressed as devils or dark satyrs, who leap and counter-rotate in a death and gravity-defying display of fearless acrobatics and astonishing teamwork, as they perform their stunts running inside and on top of the two wheels, while fast-paced rock music adds to the intensity of their act.
A hoops act with such a high level of difficulty is a rare demonstration of skill and the KOOZÅ artist is one of the best in the world. Combining fluidity of movement, physical contortion, exceptional balance and impressive dexterity, her performance is out of this world, whether she is spinning one, two, three, or even seven hoops simultaneously.
Balancing on Chairs
The equipment is as simple as it gets: eight chairs and a pedestal. But in this act, the artist uses them to create a 23-foot tower on which to perform a balancing act that displays the human body at the very peak of condition and muscular control.
Never losing contact, two strong, flexible performers move almost imperceptibly, assuming positions impossible without an impeccable sense of balance. The artists call on their sensitivity and powers of concentration in their quest for perfect harmony. Their act is testimony to the natural beauty of the human body.
The Teeterboard flings artists over 30 feet above the stage, where they execute quintuple twisting somersaults - and that's just the prelude. The suspense mounts as the sense of risk crescendos and the acrobats are somersaulted into the air and perform their stunts with metal stilts strapped to their legs before landing safely on a trampoline.
The Magical Trickster
Charming and sophisticated, The Trickster is a sublimely quick and agile being, a genius who knows all about the world of KOOZÅ, because he created it. He appears and disappears at will and there's electricity in the air each time he arrives on stage. He created this world for The Innocent and keeps a watchful eye out for him. He teases him, and plays tricks on him with his powers, but it's The Innocent's own subconscious that leads the dance…
The Innocent is a naïve and melancholy loner carried off into The Trickster's world. Outwardly childlike, ingenuous and simple, he is eager to get to know the new world he's in, but as soon as he uses The Trickster's powers, he discovers an unexpected and jarring environment, a reflection of his soul.
The King is the king of fools, the most burlesque of all the characters. His hair is tousled and his crown has a mind of its own as he tries desperately to gain the respect of those who are crazier than himself.
Sean Kempton & Colin Heath
The two Court Clowns, "The Handyman" and "The American Tourist", are The King's foolish footmen, his indispensable sidekicks in the extravagant adventures in the realm of KOOZÅ.
The Mad Dog
In the crazy world of KOOZÅ, even The Mad Dog is... nutty. While chasing everyone, he is barking, panting, tail-wagging, leg-lifting and is an uncontrollable canine galdot. The word "training" means nothing to him, but like everyone else he's drawn to The Innocent and becomes his faithlul, playful, over-the-top companion.
The very strange Heimloss lives beneath the stage, where he's in charge of the mechanical machinery that gives life to everything in the hidden world of KOOZÅ.