Pop Culture

Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza Offers Edge-Of-The-Seat Thrills

The human body's amazing abilities will be on full display for Cirque du Soleil's Kooza.
The human body's amazing abilities will be on full display for Cirque du Soleil's Kooza. Photo by Matt Beard and Bernard Letendre
More than 10 years since it first debuted in Houston, Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza has returned to showcase new and improved death-defying acts and comedic entertainment for which the group is so well known. It is running now through March 5 at Sam Houston Race Park.

Kooza pays tribute to the earlier art forms of circus acts as it follows a trickster and The Innocent, who is magically transported to a wildly imaginative world and travels along the path of self-discovery. The storyline blends jaw-dropping acrobatics, slapstick comedy and heart-racing surprises.

The show has been amplified and modified from its original format, and artistic director Jennifer Lécuyer says it is well worth a second look…or perhaps a first visit.

“The [show captures the] essence of circus and Cirque du Soleil in the sense that the acts really bring the audience to the edge of their seats. There are so many ‘wow’ moments, so many incredible acrobatic feats, and the clowns have a nice interaction with the audience,” she said.

Some of the not-to-miss performances include the double high-wire, a unicycle duet, a silk act, a teeter board and a wheel of death, among other high-flying feats and those oh-so-funny entertainers.

Lécuyer also mentions that the storyline, combined with the strong acrobatics, creates an unforgettable experience.

“The story is really emotional and very touching, and to have the strong acrobatics with a really touching story really brings out all of what makes this show moving and memorable. It's the perfect mix for a signature Cirque du Soleil performance,” she added.
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Circus performers will bend over backwards to keep audiences entertained.
Photo by Matt Beard and Bernard Letendre
Attendees can expect all the usual trappings of a Cirque du Soleil show: whimsical characters, lavish costuming, colorful sets, hilarious clowning and a powerful live score. The last element, the music, is almost as much of a character as the people on stage.

“The music's role is very powerful and varied for a lot of different performances going on. The music that goes along with a certain act is very reflective of the energy and the masculinity or the femininity of the specific act,” said band leader Fritz Kraai. “It really is a great marriage between the stage performers and what you're hearing.”

The music can range from angelic vocal solos to the full rush of rock music.

“The music is so beautifully written, and with the way it's arranged, it is gratifying and exciting. The acts and the music line up perfectly,” he said. “The music is reflective of the style of the act. We follow the action within an act and change our musical phrases to follow the big tricks, the choreography and the action within each acrobatic act.”

Kraai should know. He directs the band, which is the first element the audience will witness at Kooza.

“From the opening moment when we have most of the artists come out, the stage rolls forward, the curtains open, and you can see the full band. We play an upbeat Bollywood-type number. Right away, it lets the audience know there is a live band playing a lot of interesting and very cool instruments,” he said.

From the imaginative storytelling to the costumes, the music to the eyebrow-raising stunts, Kooza is on track to be another Cirque du Soleil hit.
Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza runs now through March 5 at Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 N. Sam Houston Pkwy W. For tickets or information, visit cirquedusoleil.com/kooza. $49 – 305.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd