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Luzia

LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul.

Freely inspired by Mexico, LUZIA is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions – a land that inspires awe with its breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people.

The tableaux of LUZIA weave an intricate, contemporary mosaic that awakens your senses and transports you to a place suspended between dreams and reality.

Touring in United States and Mexico More info

Acts

Prologue

The sound of a plane is fading away as a parachutist is free falling towards a land of memories. He lands in a field of cempasuchil flowers (yellow marigolds) surrounding a gigantic metallic key. As he turns the key by curiosity, the traveler gets taken away on a magical journey through time and place, somewhere between dreams and reality.rder.

Running woman

As the morning sun rises, a woman and a metallic horse run together to awake this imaginary Mexico where the journey of the traveler will take place. The running woman spreads her “butterfly wings” in a tribute to the annual migratory journey of the monarch butterfly from southern Canada to central Mexico.

Hoop diving on treadmills

This tableau combines hoop diving with two giant treadmills in a soaring tribute to agility and speed. Seven acrobats wearing hummingbird costume, complete with wings and a long beak, jump through hoops a mere 75 centimeters (less than 30 inches) in diameter. Performing the feat on two treadmills makes the challenge even more daunting. The acrobats leap through the hoops sometimes feet first, sometimes backwards, sometimes bent in half. Some even leapfrog over their partners in order to jump through the rings.

Adagio

In a nod to the golden age of Mexican cinema, this hand-to-hand act unfolds in a smoky dance hall reminiscent of Salon Mexico. Three porters proficient in the art of “flinging acrobats in the air” hurl a flyer above their heads where she performs intricate flips. Sometimes the porters hold her by the hands and feet, turning her into a human skipping rope.

Cyr wheel and trapeze

With cacti silhouetted against the setting sun, two young women dance on stage in large majestic hoops as in a dream. Rolling among the quiotes (Agave plants), they are soon joined by a trapeze artist who performs a series of original figures, sometimes hanging only by one heel. The performance culminates in the rain.

Beach clown

After riding his bicycle through the mountains in direction of the beach, the traveler stops to drink water out of his canteen…which is unfortunately empty. He finds an abandoned beach ball which allows him to break the fourth wall and engage in a competitive ball match with the audience.

Hand balancing

A lifeguard struts about on a buoy among the waves in a tribute this time to Mexican cinema of the 1920s. He gradually builds two rows of flexible canes on top of his buoy. Under the command of an overzealous film director, the artist performs a series of figures, sometimes balancing on one hand, sometimes doing push-ups, sometimes holding an iron cross position, all the while flaunting his great physical strength. He builds his tottering structure to an impressive 6 meters (close to 20 feet) above the stage.

Football dance

This youthful act pays tribute to the modern ritual sport of football, highly celebrated in Mexico. A man and a woman try to outdo each other by deftly manipulating a ball with their feet and head. They make the ball bounce, roll and spin using their knees, feet, soles and the back of their neck. When it starts to rain, time seems to stand still as the artists carry on, impervious to the downpour.

Clown rain and percussions parade

The traveler, still thirsty, tries to rehydrate with the providential rain water. Little did he know that rain would be very difficult to tame in this imaginary Mexico. Two-dimensional images created from water droplets and blank spaces start falling from the sky before a parade of percussionists and singers, reminiscent of the Day of the Dead celebrations, take over the stage.

Masts & poles

In a dreamlike setting that recalls experiments with peyote (a plant with hallucinogenic properties), acrobats climb up and down vertical poles and criss-cross in the air while leaping from one pole to the other.

Swing 360

In a nod to the very popular Mexican sport of professional wrestling called lucha libre (or ‘free fight’), an artist wearing a luchador mask and costume climbs onto a swing. Under his own power he makes the apparatus swing higher and higher until he reaches the tipping point and the swing makes a full turn.

Aerial straps

An artist representing a demigod of rain emerges from the pristine waters of a cenote recalling the naturally occurring sinkholes the Mayan believed were gateways to the afterlife. He performs a graceful aerial straps act, his hair whipping the surface of the water as he rotates on the straps in a circle just above the water. The artist interacts with a puppet resembling a life-size jaguar, an animal that has become a mythological figure of Mexican culture. The artist manages to gain the big cat’s trust in this tableau brimming with lyricism.

Juggling

In a tribute to the art of speed juggling popular in Mexico, an artist manages to juggle seven pins at breakneck speeds. The pins whirl so fast they become a metallic blur just like the propellers of an airplane. The juggler engages in a dialogue with the marimba, a musical instrument typical of the Veracruz region in Eastern Mexico.

Contortion

An artist enveloped in a mystical aura amid glowing candles puts his body in knots with astounding ease and flexibility. He twists his body in unimaginable positions, and even manages to touch the back of his head with his pelvis!

Clown scuba diving

The traveler takes a dive to explore the underwater world, which first looks peaceful until he disturbs three cacti relaxing on the ocean floor.

Swing to swing

Under a luminous red moon, nine artists perform a stunning Russian swing act. For the first time at Cirque du Soleil, the two swings are mounted on a turntable so that the audience can enjoy the performance from all angles. The pushers demonstrate impeccable timing by flinging their partners up to 10 meters (33 feet) in the air.

Fiesta finale

All the characters the traveler has met through his journey gather together for a festive celebration around a large dining table. They each wear a different costume incorporating the traditional Otomi embroidery patterns, giving a sense of unity and community to this final scene.

Costumes

When Costume Designer Giovanna Buzzi sat down with the co-authors of LUZIA to imagine the costumes, they decided to steer clear of the folkloric aspects of Mexico and Mexican culture and to avoid potential clichés, especially when it comes to the color palette.

Assigning specific colors to each scene – It is natural to associate Mexico with a mosaic of bright colors. But in order to avoid the pitfalls of turning the stage into a potpourri of colors, the creators chose to build a story in which each scene would have its own distinct color or combination of colors, like the subtle strokes of an artist’s paintbrush. In the Adagio tableau, for instance, a flying woman dons a beautiful pink dress in an otherwise monochromatic environment, while the artists in the Cyr Wheel/Trapeze tableau are clad in yellow hues. The nods to Mexican hues are deliberately subtle. Overall, the show proves to be highly colorful, but iconic colors such as cobalt blue and Mexican pink are not found in their usual contexts.

A noble menagerie – Animals play a prominent role in Mexican lore and mythology, a tradition that carries over into daily life. In LUZIA’s imaginary Mexico, it is no big deal to come across a man with the head of an armadillo, swordfish or iguana, or a crocodile playing the Marimba, or a woman with a hummingbird’s head and wings. At the top of the show, a group of hoop divers are dressed as a flock of colorful hummingbirds. Later on, the Adagio scene unfolds in a strange bar in which a female character is wrapped in an iguana shawl, an ode to the Mexican surrealist movement.

Technology in the service of art – Some of LUZIA’s striking costumes are the result of innovative research and development. A case in point is the dress that “magically” turns from white to red. In order to turn this vision into reality, the people at C:LAB (the creative laboratory of Cirque du Soleil) came up with a clever solution: the dress was fitted with 98 white, individually programmed flowers, each one equipped with a small motor. When the flowers open their petals, they reveal their red interior, thus triggering the metamorphosis. The dress weighs a whopping 9 kg!

Costume close-ups

 

  • Tradition and modernity collide in the costumes of LUZIA, which mix contemporary patterns, techniques and designs with folkloric inspirations.
  • The high level of detail in the LUZIA costumes, such as the intricate patterns in the Singer’s shawl, pays tribute to the artistry of traditional Mexican craftspeople.
  • Because some artists perform in the water, new types of soles had to be designed for shoes, while a system to dry costumes between shows had to be developed.
  • The Running Woman spreads her “butterfly wings” in an tribute to the annual migratory journey of the monarch butterfly from southern Canada to central Mexico for the winter. Each wing is 6 m long, is made of silk and requires 40 m of material.
  • The hoop divers are dressed as hummingbirds, complete with head, beak and wings. They are in costume when they leap through hoops a mere 75 cm in diameter!
  • The puppeteers and prop manipulators all wear Guayabera shirts – the traditional men’s wedding shirt in Mexico – instead of the usual black bodysuit.
  • Each performance requires 140 pairs of shoes.
  • The artisans in the costume workshop developed 6 crocodile heads, 1 iguana shawl, 1 cockroach, 1 grasshopper, 1 armadillo, 1 snake, 5 swordfish heads and 3 tuna heads. Some of the “body parts” are manipulated like puppets so that the creatures look alive.
  • In all, 1,115 different costume elements were created for LUZIA.

Set design & props

Set Concept – Set Designer Eugenio Caballero had three overriding objectives when he envisioned the LUZIA set. First, he wanted to convey the idea of monumentality and of grandeur commonly associated with Mexico. Second, he wanted to make sure that each spectator would have a great view of all of the acts, regardless of where they are sitting under the Big Top. And third, he set out to create an environment where location and timeline changes would be quick and seamless.

The creative team decided to bring the element of water into the overall set design – a first for a Cirque du Soleil Big Top show. Hence the idea to set the Aerial Straps act in a cenote, a naturally occurring sinkhole or cistern the Mayan believed was a sacred gateway to the afterlife. The cenote is a powerful symbol at the heart of Mexican lore and geology.

The disk, a symbol of the grandeur of Mexican architecture – The great disk towering above the LUZIA stage, which represents in turn the sun, the moon and the Aztec calendar, pays tribute to some of the most colossal manmade structures in the world. The Teotihuacan archaeological site located 50 km northeast of Mexico City features some of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids in the pre-Columbian Americas, built around 100 C.E.

The huge disk, which rotates horizontally and moves forwards and backwards, undergoes various transformations during the show. The massive object is equipped with a giant light box that turns the disk into the sun or the moon.

A journey inside a Blue Box – It’s impossible to talk about one Mexico, hence the idea of a journey – literally and figuratively speaking – through the multiple places and faces of LUZIA’s imaginary Mexico. This was the starting point for the overall concept of the show: the spectator is taken from an old movie set to the ocean to the semi-desert to an undersea world to a cenote to the jungle to a city alleyway to a dance salon – passing smoothly from an urban setting to the natural world, past to present, tradition to modernity.

To make the idea of a journey through various geographic locations possible, Eugenio needed to create a neutral stage inside the Big Top. He came up with a variation on the black box theatre concept (a simple, somewhat unadorned performance space), which he dubbed the “Blue Box”. The purpose of the blue in the backdrop and on the floor is to enhance the various elements that appear on stage.

A field of cempasuchil – LUZIA starts with a field of 5,000 cempasuchil in bloom. These flowers – aka the Mexican marigold or the Aztec marigold – are the main element of Day of the Dead altars. The cempasuchil field in LUZIA is not there for purely aesthetic reasons; it reflects a desire to share a profoundly meaningful ritual rooted in emotion.

The Papel Picado curtain – The keen-eyed observer will notice that the images on the huge Papel Picado lantern-like structure that descends on the LUZIA stage represent various narrative elements and characters in the show – a horse, a field of flowers, a flock of hummingbirds, a plaza, a cenote, a cave, an underwater world, raindrops, a storm, the sun, a city, and desert cacti.

Set design and props close-ups

  • With its two revolving rings and central platter, the stage floor has 94,657 holes through which the water drains into a 3,500-litre basin hidden underneath.
  • The disk is 6.9 m in diameter and weighs about 2,000 kg. It is supported by a giant bracket, called the “Cobra”, that functions like a crane. The disk can move over a distance of 5.5 m and can rotate horizontally 360 degrees in both directions.
  • Mounted on a cylinder, the Papel Picado curtain is 11 m high by 30 m wide. Set Designer Eugenio Caballero worked with Javier Martínez Pedro, an artist from a small town in Guerrero, to create the images that were all drawn by hand. The imagery was created by punching more than 13,000 holes into the surface of the curtain.
  • The two treadmills weigh 3,630 kg apiece and are powered independently by 28 automobile-type batteries.
  • Made out of water, the images and patterns that appear in the rainfall are generated electronically by a graphical water display screen. The images interact with the artists and support the story and mood of the show. There are Otomi patterns, raindrops, flowers as well as various animal figures that are nods to the strange, warm and whimsical creatures of Mexican painter Francisco Toledo.

A word about the water curtain and water management – Integrating the element of water inside the Big Top represented a huge technical challenge on several fronts. The water must be filtered, disinfected and maintained at a constant 28°C (82°F) for the well-being of the artists. All 6,000 litres (1,585 gallons) of water used during the performance are recycled for the entire duration of a stay in a given city.

All of the metal-based infrastructure elements, as well as the electrical and electronic equipment (including the lighting and sound equipment) installed close to water, must be protected from electric shock. A bridge suspended 14 meters (46 feet) above the stage supports the water reserve and the set of 174 nozzles. The structure can rotate 360 degrees. The nozzles can be individually controlled to create two-dimensional images using water droplets and blank spaces.

The water in the basin is channeled to an external 2,500-litre (660-gallon) tank where it is treated and pumped up to the bridge 17 meters (56 feet) above the stage.

Music

Music is part of the Mexican soul.

A musical journey – The music of LUZIA takes the audience on an incandescent journey to the heart of the show’s imaginary Mexico. The score whisks spectators away on a voyage of exploration that takes them from a traditional village to a desert by way of a tropical jungle, to the seaside and all the way to an alleyway in a bustling metropolis.

For LUZIA, Composer Simon Carpentier wrote a hot, lively score with distinctive Latin American flavors. A little like the Running Woman – one of the emblematic characters in the show –, the music jumps playfully from style to style, from one rhythm to the next, from emotion to emotion, striding across landscapes as joyfully as across musical boundaries.

Music of a thousand faces – Beyond clichés and stereotypes, the audience hears the buoyant rhythms of cumbia, a music genre close to salsa dominated by guitars, accordions and percussions, as well as the lively rhythms of bandas, the traditional music of traveling brass bands. Simon also drew inspiration from the rich, tonic rhythms of norteño, a popular genre in Northern Mexico, as well as from huapango, a flamenco-based music style from the La Huasteca region along the Golf of Mexico coast.

Music came to Mexico by sea via the neighboring islands, but also from Europe. It is a collage of miscellaneous styles, genres and cultures. Rhythms of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Latin America blend with tribal sounds that dig the roots all the way to the Mayas and the Aztecs.

The music of LUZIA is steeped in this rich mixture – an amalgam of ancient and modern sounds infused with the brassy notes of tubas and trumpets and the suave melodies of the Spanish guitar, all driven forward by the relentless percussion and drums.

Voice “recognition” – In the realm of Latin American music, the voice is a powerful instrument – a vector of emotion, flavors and rhythms boltered by a lively, expressive language. In LUZIA, the vocal parts blend tradition with modernity, with hints of opera, to spread the strong Latin American vibe.

Acrobatic performance

Surprise was the catchword when the time came to conceive the acrobatic acts in LUZIA.

Water as a source of inspiration – Integrating the element of water to a Big Top show is a first at Cirque du Soleil. The idea of placing a water basin under the stage floor and creating a rain curtain paid huge dividends on the acrobatic front.

The element of water enabled the creators to take the Cyr Wheel out of its usual context. Two artists perform on the apparatus on water and in the rain, which is, at first glance, unthinkable. In order to solve the adhesion issue, a bicycle tire was mounted on the wheel rim. Great ideas look simple… after the fact.

Breaking down barriers – LUZIA explores the combination of hoop diving – a traditional circus discipline from China – and two giant treadmills to generate speed and expand the discipline’s acrobatic vocabulary. The two treadmills can operate in the same direction or in opposite directions. Sometimes artists use the treadmill as a launching pad to perform daring leaps through the hoops; when placed on the rolling treadmills the hoops suddenly become moving targets for the divers.

Support

SUPPORT TO THE PERFORMANCE

Unlike musicals or theatre plays, Cirque du Soleil productions keep evolving and changing even years after their first performance. The Artistic and Technical teams on tour have the dual mandate of ensuring the respect of the original concepts of LUZIA, while supporting their evolution through time. Under the guidance of the Artistic Director, slight changes are constantly being incorporated into the performance to keep it fresh and alive for the cast, the crew and the audience who experiences it for the very first time.

Artistic Direction – Gracie Valdez, the Artistic Director of LUZIA, has the extensive mandate of ensuring the quality of each performance, overseeing the selection and integration of new cast members, supporting and feeding the artistic and acrobatic evolution of the show, and managing the creation of back-up scenarios. With her team of Stage Managers, Coaches and Performance Medicine Therapists, Gracie oversees the well-being, work load and daily motivation of the 44 cast members of LUZIA.

Show Technical Department – A team of 21 show technicians are required to operate the show and perform the daily maintenance on all technical pieces. The team is divided in 6 departments: Lighting, Sound, Rigging, Automation, Props, Stage Carpentry and Wardrobe.

Performance Medicine – Two Performance Medicine Therapists travel with LUZIA to monitor the physical condition of the artists, procure treatment, develop targeted training programs, and suggest modifications to acrobatic performances when needed. Artists can also sign-up for appointments on site with a Massage Therapist and a Pilates Coach who are sourced locally.

Tour Services – An array of services is offered to the 115 cast and crew members of LUZIA. The Tour Services department takes care of the travel and lodging of all individuals, working visas, insurance programs and provides supporting accounting services. Two permanent chefs and a kitchen manager also tour with LUZIA and serve daily an average of 250 complimentary meals.

FUN FACTS

  • A total 115 people from 25 countries are part of the touring cast and crew of LUZIA.
  • The 44 artists alone come from 19 different nationalities: Belarus, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Guinea, Italy, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia and Venezuela.
  • There are more than 40 different job titles on site, including Electrician, Head of Tents, IT Specialist, Sales & Customer Experience Supervisor, Publicist and Plumber.

Themes

THE MAIN THEMES OF LUZIA

Through its set design, costumes, acrobatic performance and music, LUZIA explores various themes linked to the culture, history and mythology of Mexico, some of which may not seem connected at first glance.

Monumentality – Visitors to Mexico may experience a certain light-headedness when faced with the staggering beauty of the country’s landscapes, forests and nature, but also with the richness of its culture and the splendor of its architectural wonders.

Speed – It is natural to associate Mexico with the idea of speed. One needs only call to mind the uncanny ability of certain people in Mexico, such as the Tarahumaras, who make seemingly superhuman efforts on a daily basis, deriving great strength from their deeply spiritual perspective of life.

Rain in all shapes and forms – In Mexico, there are as many types of rain as there are clouds that produce it – from the refreshing showers of Coyoacán, an iconic neighborhood at the heart of Mexico City, to the torrential rains that sweep across Baja California, to the plentiful autumn rains, as violent as they are sudden. In the diversified geography of Mexico, rain is part of the collective consciousness and has a narrative force all its own.

Surreal menagerie and poetic vision of reality – The fascination of the Mexican people for the animal world is as evident in the country’s traditions and mythology as it is in its traditional arts and crafts. This special connection with nature and animal life stems from a poetic – and even magical – vision of reality. This is apparent in the Mesoamerican concept of the nagual according to which the spirit of an animal lives in every human being from birth; this spirit protects and guides the individual throughout their life.

Creators

Guy Laliberté

Founder and Creative Guide

Jean-François Bouchard

Chief Creative Content Officer and Director of Creation IRIS

Daniele Finzi Pasca

Conception and Director Luzia

Brigitte Poupart

Associate Director

Patricia Ruel

Director of Creation Amaluna, KÀ, The Beatles LOVE, Viva ELVIS, Luzia - Set Designer and Props Co-Designer Banana Shpeel - Set, Props and Puppet Visual Designer Wintuk

Julie Hamelin Finzi

Playwright Luzia - Costume and Puppet Visual Designer Wintuk

Eugenio Caballero

Set and Props Designer Luzia

Giovanna Buzzi

Costume Designer Luzia

Simon Carpentier

Composer and Musical Director Luzia

Edesia Moreno Barata

Acrobatic Choreographer Luzia

Debra Brown

Acrobatic Choreographer Luzia - Acrobatic Choreographer Amaluna, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour

Silvia Gertrúdix González

Acrobatic Choreographer Luzia - Acrobatic Choreographer Amaluna, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour

Max Humphries

Puppets Designer Luzia - Costume and Puppet Visual Designer Wintuk

Martin Labrecque

Lighting Designer Corteo, KOOZA, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, Luzia - Additional Lighting Design and Reprogramming Viva ELVIS

Johnny Ranger

Projection Designer Luzia

Jacques Boucher

Sound Designer KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, TORUK - The First Flight, Luzia

Philippe Aubertin

Acrobatic performance Designer Luzia

Danny Zen

Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, Luzia

Maryse Gosselin

Make-up Designer Luzia