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January 28, 2014 > Magical island of Amaluna amazes and mystifies

Magical island of Amaluna amazes and mystifies

By Julie Grabowski

Amazon warriors, peacocks, goddesses, lizards, fairies - this is the world of ÒAmaluna,Ó the latest Cirque du Soleil show to hit the Bay Area. Written and directed by renowned Tony Award-winning theatre director Diane Paulus, ÒAmalunaÓ is inspired by ShakespeareÕs ÒThe TempestÓ and takes the audience through the coming-of-age tale of young Miranda in 10 incredible, eye-candy acts.

Prospera is a shaman with magical powers who presides over the island of Amaluna, but her main concern is her daughter, Miranda, a young girl who is growing into herself and the world around her, ready for a future of her own making. When Prospera stirs up a storm that deposits a group of young men onto the island, including the handsome Prince Romeo, love begins to stir. However, the course of Miranda and Romeo will not be an easy one; the two are tested with difficulties and trials that they must overcome before they can be together.

A blend of the words ama, Òmother,Ó and luna, Òmoon,Ó ÒAmalunaÓ honors the feminine voice and spirit with a 70 percent female cast and an all-female band. This distinct slant represents a first for Cirque du Soleil. But this is no quiet, tranquil, sweet-girl island; the musical ensemble provides a loud and rocking modern soundtrack via guitars, bass, drums, violoncello, saxophone, percussion, and vocals, and the performers display a hard-hitting portrait of the strength, beauty, and capability of women.

Ikhertsetseg Bayarsaikhan (Miranda) creates the biggest impression in the first act with her astounding balance and body control in Cerceau and Water Bowl. Her strength, fluidity, and flexibility is a wonder. While the aerial ballet of Storm and acrobatic fun of Icarians and Water Meteors are pleasing opening elements, the second half of the show packs the more impressive punch.

Balance Goddess Lili Chao is a marvel of patience and precision as she constructs a mobile from 13 palm leaf ribs, balancing the growing structure from hand to head to supporting palm brace. With complete audience silence, ChaoÕs disciplined, working breath was audible with the final touches, her face splitting into a huge smile of relief upon completing her task.

Evgeny Kurkin (Romeo) is mesmerizing in his Chinese Pole act. Trying to climb to his Miranda who has been spirited away, Kurkin delivers beautiful movement with a gorgeous fluidity and dreamy ease. His strength and power is quiet but astounding, with thrilling drops and catches and an ability that seems effortless. The act is arguably the best of the evening.

In celebration of his capture and imprisonment of Romeo in the water bowl, jealous half-human, half-lizard Cali (Viktor Kee) sheds his tail and some scales gets down to celebrating with an impressive Juggling act. Employing elbows, feet, forehead, back, and chin in addition to dexterous fingers, Kee deftly handles the ever increasing number of balls that drop from the sky with terrific expressiveness and fun. Kee is magnetic and engaging throughout the show and knows how to work a tail, which is almost another character in itself.

Valkyries Virginie Canovas, Renee Koehler, and Kylee Maupoux take to the sky in the thrilling Aerial Straps act to battle Cali and free Romeo. Remarkable flexibility, precision, and strength define these ladies as they slice through the air at high speed. Battle never looked so gorgeous or inviting.

Outside of the action, the comic component of clowns fell a little flat. While Shereen Hickman (Deeda) is likable on her own, when paired with Nathalie Claude as RomeoÕs amorous manservant Jeeves, the duo gets tiresome with unoriginal antics and an unbelievable love. After indulging in a smile or two you want to get back to the good stuff.

As ever, Cirque du Soleil showcases wardrobes like no other, and costume designer Mérédith Caron delivers complex and intriguing pieces. The show contains over 130 costumes that are comprised of nearly 800 different items. The looks blend ancient and modern times and various cultures, with references to Scandinavia and the Orient, as well as the Renaissance era.

Cirque du Soleil has brought their unique vision, storytelling, and imaginative spectacle of entertainment to more than 100 million spectators in over forty countries on six continents. While you would definitely need a program to connect all the story elements and understand deeper meanings of the narrative and performers, ÒAmalunaÓ continues the tradition with plenty of astonishing beauty, skill, and wow factor to accompany you home.

ÒAmalunaÓ runs through Sunday, March 2. Tickets for adults start at $55; $45 for children; and $50 for seniors (65 plus), students (13 plus with ID), and military (student, senior, and military discounts are available for non-peak performances only). For more information, to purchase tickets or preview the show, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna.

Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna
Wednesday, Jan 22 Ð Sunday, Mar 2
Weekly at 8 p.m.
Saturdays: 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays: 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Taylor Street Bridge (Hwy. 87 and Taylor St.) Lot E, San Jose
1-800-450-1480
www.cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna
Tickets: $50 - $270








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