BWW Review: Cirque du Soleil's LUZIA Brings Mexico to Bay Area

BWW Review: Cirque du Soleil's LUZIA Brings Mexico to Bay Area

Feliz Navidad! If you're looking for a grand fiesta this holiday season, be sure to see the latest from Cirque du Soleil.

Billed as a "waking dream of Mexico," "Luzia" features bright colors and acrobatic performers in front of an ever-changing Aztec sun. The overall design aesthetic is simpler than previous Cirques, but fitting, while captivating puppetry and innovative technology give this Cirque its edge. Hummingbirds dive through hoops set on large, moving treadmills, and a trapeze and strap artist perform beneath an oversized rain curtain, which drops at intervals to create exotic images. The humor is there too, as a parched clown searches for water - a quest all too relevant to California - and takes scuba diving selfies with anatomically correct cacti.

The influence behind each act is not always self-evident, but the history and mythology - from the Pok-ta-pok ritual ballgame to sinking holes that lead to the afterlife - are fascinating to discover if you're willing to purchase a souvenir program. Otherwise, be content to join the person next to you in gasping at a contortionist's flexibility, a juggler's speed, and a football player's tricks. Other acts include a 360 Luchadores, Chinese poles, swing to swing and acrobatic flips, and hand balancing.

The one strong downfall of this Cirque is its distracting use of extra bodies on stage - perhaps a misguided allusion to Mexico's vibrant community gatherings. Previous Cirques have found interesting ways to highlight their musicians, and "Luzia" does offer some fun spirit animal designs along with a beautiful, blooming dress of flowers, but, again, those creative elements are hindered by poor staging.

Still, who doesn't love a good mariachi band? And Simon Carpentier's entertaining score highlighting brass instruments and ethnic vocals completes this "intricate, contemporary mosaic."

(A quick note on the soundtrack: Do not expect the music from the show to match what you hear on the CD. Some of the songs are missing and other have been remixed.)

Cirque du Soleil LUZIA plays through January 29 in San Francisco and February 9 through March 19 in San Jose. For ticket purchases and show information, visit cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.

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