Arts and Music
Cirque du Soleil's 'Kooza' offers something new in St. Pete
By Cloe Cabrera | Tribune StaffEven if you've seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, you haven't seen what Kooza has to offer, said the show's artist director.
Published: November 2, 2012
Published: November 2, 2012
"Our shows were created to reinvent the circus, and they have done that," said Michael G. Smith, speaking from a tour-stop in Dallas. "With (Kooza) we're getting more theatrical and bringing back the things that make circus exciting. Kooza is a return to tradition for us. It's a wonderfully fresh, raw, in-your-face show, unlike our other productions."
Cirque du Soleil's Kooza will perform daily under a white big-top pitched in the parking lot of Tropicana Field beginning Thursday.
Written and directed by David Shiner, Kooza combines two circus traditions: acrobatic performance and the art of clowning.
Kooza has been seen by more than 4 million people around the world, said Smith, who joined Cirque du Soleil in 1985 as artistic director for the Japanese and European tours.
The show premiered in April 2007, but this is the first time the production is in the Tampa area, he said.
Cirque du Soleil was created by street performers in Montreal in the early 1980s. It has grown into an operation of more than 3,500 employees with permanent shows in Las Vegas and Orlando and numerous traveling shows.
The name Kooza, inspired by the Sanskrit word koza, which means box, or chest, was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a "circus in a box."
Kooza is the story of The Innocent, who is searching for his place in the world and gets swept up into a mysterious place filled with a colorful and irreverent cast of characters, all presented to him by an agile guide, known as the Trickster, who sometimes likes to cause lightning storms and laugh menacingly. There also is The Bad Dog that barks and chases everyone around and the Pickpocket that makes improbable balloons.
The show's story has to do with good and bad, the yin and yang, that exists in us all, Smith said.
The show also features the colorful Charivari house troupe that dives into the air and creates human pyramids; contortionists that bend as if they have no bones; high-wire artists who balance on a wire barely an inch wide, trapeze artists, unicycle duos and more.
Smith said one of the heart-stopping moments in the show comes during the "Wheel of Death" act, which features two men running and jumping rope atop a 1,600 spinning steel sphere.
The feat still takes Naomi Adler's breath away each time she sees it.
"It's always very difficult to look at," said Adler, the show's backstage manager. "They are not rigged or attached to anything, so it's always very dangerous."
The 10-act show, performed by 53 artists, is perhaps the most personal experience the audience might have with a Cirque production, because the performers interact with the audience.
He said Kooza's theme, following your dreams and aspirations no matter the challenge, resonates with young and old alike.
"This show gives people a chance to dream big," he said. "You see people on stage doing the impossible, and it inspires you to achieve the impossible in life. It's magical, exhilarating and inspiring."
From Cirque du Soleil
When: Nov. 9 through Dec. 9
Where: Under the big top at Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg
Tickets: $43.50 to $143.50; available at cirquedusoleil.com
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