“Guess what Emma? We’re going to the circus!”
I thought she’d be excited, but instead her response was lukewarm, “Can’t you take someone else? The circus isn’t really my thing.”
Geez, kids these days really don’t know how to have fun!
Turns out she was a little bit worried about the clowns, but once I explained that Cirque du Soleil is no ordinary circus, she was happy to be my date for the evening.
Yes, Cirque du Soleil is back in Melbourne under it’s trademark blue and yellow big top with a brand new show KOOZA, and we were very privileged to be invited to experience it for ourselves.
KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning.
As soon as we stepped into the vast main tent and Emma saw the stage, all her butterflies disappeared, she was already getting swept up in the magic of ‘le cirque’.
The show starts with the Trickster bursting onto the scene like a jack-in-the-box in front of a child like character called The Innocent, and that’s just the first of many surprises to come. The Innocent’s journey brings him into contact with a vast array of comic characters such as the King and his clowns, the Trickster, and a very cheeky dog.
The name KOOZA is inspired by the Sanskrit word “koza,” which means box, chest or treasure, and was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a ‘circus in a box’.
Indeed, each act felt like we’d discovered a hidden gem and every audience member was on the edge of their seats, both delighted and stunned at the sheer feats of human ability.
The first act, a team of contortionists, had me wondering how the show could top it, but it did!
As for all Cirque du Soleil shows, the attention to detail in the costumes and production design was second to none, this show used a live band and singers to add to the magic of the performance. One surprise that Emma loved was a rock drummer act which was amazing.
I don’t want to reveal too much about the show because I’ll spoil the surprise, but let’s just say this, you’ll feel like a kid again – every act is wondrous and spellbinding.
“KOOZA is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad,” says the show’s writer and director David Shiner. “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. As it evolves, we are exploring concepts such as fear, identity, recognition and power.”
There were some darker moments in the show where Emma clutched my hand, but overall it was a really fun experience for her. There was quite a lot of audience participation which was really engaging and she kept herself entertained during intermission (which was about 25min) by playing with the confetti that had been fired over the audience at the end of the first act.
My favourite act: the Wheel of Death.
KOOZA’s 1,600-pound Wheel of Death rotates at heart-stopping speeds, powered only by the two artists who leap and counter-rotate in a death-defying display of fearless acrobatics and astonishing teamwork.
I think I held my breath through the whole act, it was just crazy!
And if watching this spectacular show wasn’t a treat enough, we were also invited back stage after to show to meet some of the performers, take a look at the costumes close up and get a little glimpse of life behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil.
You’d think going behind the scenes would spoil the magic, but I always find it fascinating to see how much hard work goes into putting on a production that feels so effortless.
Emma was in her element and had a million questions for our behind the scenes host. Because she loved the confetti cannon so much, one of the technician was kind enough to take some time and explain to us how it worked.
Of course I love the wardrobe department and it was a treat to see the detail of the costumes close up.
For KOOZA, the costume designer Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt has drawn on a wide variety of sources of inspiration: everything from graphic novels, the painter Klimt, Mad Max movies, time- travel movies to India and Eastern Europe. She was also inspired by clock movements, tin soldiers, marching band uniforms and children’s book illustrations. All this merges to create a look that alludes to Alice in Wonderland, Baron Munchaüsen and the Wizard of Oz.
Read more about life behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil.
On the way home all Emma could talk about was how amazing it was to meet the Trickster in real life.
And her favourite part of the show? The Clowns
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL – KOOZA – AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Melbourne – Now playing until March 26 2017, Flemington Racecourse
Perth – From April 13 2017, Belmont Park Racecourse
Tickets starting from $60 at www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza