Believe the Unbelievable in Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA
You go to the Cirque for the feats of athleticism.
Photo courtesy Cirque du Soleil
In KOOZA's loose narrative, a shy, foppish character known as The Innocent discovers a Cirque du Soleil world of magic, acrobatics and illusion. He's not only awed by the fantastic, but also finds a sense of self and purpose.
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If that story doesn't sound compelling, that's because it's really not. There has only ever been one reason to come to a Cirque du Soleil engagement, and that is to be thrilled by the feats of strength, flexibility and athleticism on display. The primary appeal of the performers at Cirque has never been what the human body can emote, but what it can do. And these bodies can do quite a bit. The Innocent's journey to self-discovery is marked by a series of circus acts, some more jaw-dropping than others.
The first real crowd-pleaser of the first act is the trio of contortionists dressed in skintight gold leaf costumes. They move with a lithe energy that can only be described as feline. The choreography showcases their hyperextended backs as they fold themselves in ways that suggest their spines are really made of Play-Doh rather than bone. When one of the three women arches her back so that her feet touch the floor in front of her, and then proceeds to run her lower body around herself, it's hard not to gasp in disbelief.
Equally stunning is a balancing act that sees a performer hold himself on one hand 23 feet in the air. The routine would be less nerve-wracking if what he was balancing on wasn't a tower of chairs that looks as solid as a tower of Legos. The muscular control required to do such a thing is not lost on the audience, even when he secures himself to a safety line for his final and most daring hold.
The rest of the show is just as entertaining, and features a solo trapeze performance, a unicycle routine, charivari, hoops manipulation, a teeterboard act that is not to be missed and a couple of funny, if not obscene, comedy acts. The Wheel of Death in Act II is not for the faint of heart, but is so thrilling, it has to be seen to be believed.
KOOZA is at its best when it's not trying to be an emotional journey. When there's this much showmanship and exoticism on display, any attempt at creating a personal trajectory is pointless. Cirque du Soleil is a circus, after all, and KOOZA is another entertaining entry in its long list of spectacles.
KOOZA runs through September 2 at Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Pkwy. For information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.
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