Above – Straps. Cover – Adagio. Photos – Matt Beard

Last time Cirque du Soleil’s tent was at Flemington Race Course, it was a ridiculously short season. Covid lockdowns meant Kurios closed just two days after it opened.

But now, four years later (and after an underwhelming circus/ice show offering called Crystal seen here last year in an arena environment), Luzia makes up for lost time. Thankfully, it brings back the custom Cirque tent that houses all the circus magic and turns the experience into something really special.

Cirque du Soleil has lots of shows – some hits and some misses. Luzia (from 2016) is in the former category.

Inspired by the sights and sounds of Mexico – the music, the flora and fauna, even the wrestling – Luzia is a jumble of imagery all wrapped up in spectacular environments that include a vertical waterfall raining down like a tapestry on a loom and a plunge pool for an aerialist to thrash in and out of.

A revolving stage means that all audiences get front-facing views at different points of the show. The circular design pleasingly frames the acts, pulling focus to a centre point while the cast of eccentric characters (including human cacti, mariachis, birds) adorn and embellish the main visuals. Large puppets (controlled by multiple puppeteers) drop into acts from time to time. It’s busy, but not completely overdone as sometimes happens in the Cirque du Soleil universe.

Luzia finds the balance of spectacle and restraint, without ever skimping on the wow-factor or allowing the audience-interacting clown to wear out his welcome.

From the moment a lone man (clown Eric Koller) sky dives down to stage and turns an enormous key, opening the magical world of Luzia, a succulent parade of acts is let loose. All the main bases are covered – hoop diving (while on a treadmill contraption as well as the turning stage), trapeze and cyr wheel, adagio and hand balance. While group acts get attention, Luzia’s focus on solo acts means there’s actually breath to focus on individuals like Alexsei Goloborodko, a contortionist who is pliable by even contortionist standards. Or Jerome Sordillon whose aerial strap act makes sexy use of the water on stage and is framed by a life-size jaguar puppet.

The strike rate of acts is high – from juggling to choreographed soccer tricks and group aerial pole. Even a 360 degree swing makes an appearance. The technology and design required to showcase these acts are as skilful as the acts themselves. And the Mexican theme (somewhat loose and generalised, as Cirque du Soleil concepts often are) integrates amazingly cinematic visuals from the Aztec disc that covers the back wall and changes hues to the running butterfly woman whose trail is as long as the stage.

And the rain, of course. Water is such a common yet powerful image and one that Luzia utilises to great effect.

If you haven’t seen Cirque du Soleil in a while – or ever – Luzia would be a great welcome back or hello for the first time.

Event details

Cirque du Soleil presents
written by Daniele Finzi Pasca and Julie Hamelin Finzi

Director Daniele Finzi Pasca

Venue: Under the Big Top, Flemington Racecourse VIC
Dates: 24 March – 26 May 2024
Bookings: www.cirquedusoleil.com

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