(Courtesy Laurence Labat)

‘Luzia’ a sparkling vision of Mexico

With a name fusing the Spanish words for light (luz) and rain (lluvia), Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia” offers a perfect post-election balm to lighten spirits and refresh the soul.

The show, which kicked off its U.S. tour under the Grand Chapiteau erected in Parking Lot A of AT&T Park, is a very worthy successor to 2014’s continuously innovative, steampunk-infused “Kurios.”

Director Daniele Finzi Pasca, with co-writer Julie Hamelin Finzi, has fashioned a poetic and free-spirited ode to myths and magic, to the history and romance of Mexico.

Their vision is enhanced at every turn – pun intended as much of the show happens on a turntable – by the breathtaking and inventive scenic, costume and lighting designs of Eugenio Cabalero, Giovanna Buzzi and Martin Labrecque.

Add the evocative score by Simon Carpentier – classically Cirque yet wonderfully Latin – and “Luzia” becomes a luminous flight of fantasy, whimsy and constantly astonishing images and artistry.

Continuous motion is a hallmark of Cirque performances, and it seems particularly multi-dimensional here.

From the skydiving opening passing seabirds in flight through the concentric circles of the closing parade around a tower of traditional papel picado (cut paper), the performers drive the show forward, often in counterpoint as with the hoop divers and the rolling treadmill.

The embrace of Mexican culture is manifold, celebrating the epic scope of its monuments and geography, its vibrant and colorful style, its iconography and its love of celebration, be it a soccer match or a community fiesta.

In doing so, the production’s focus is more on the romance setting and just a bit less on the technical proficiency of the artists, which is still considerable.

Over a dozen chapters illustrate the tale of “Luzia” and some standout moments include the running form of a hybrid woman-butterfly accompanied by a giant articulated horse puppet, the swirling cyr wheel artists, the 360-degree lucha libre swingers and the comic mastery of the evenings non-traditional clown guide.

The other element, literally speaking, that stands out is water, which is in many of the acts.

Trapeze artists fly through a falling wall of water, sending sprays out into the audience. An aerialist escapes a panther by pulling himself up by his straps, later plunging into a small pool that has opened center stage. Water becomes a playful character teasing the clown, and the backdrop for a comic encounter between scuba divers and some animated cacti.

All combined, “Luzia” is like the glittering milagros that inspire its oversized headdresses, an endlessly fascinating, surprising, inspiring and deeply magical adventure. Viva la Cirque!


REVIEW

Luzia
Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Where: Big Top, Third Street and Terry A. Francois Boulevard, S.F.
When: 8 p.m. most Tuesdays-Thursdays, 4:30 and 8 p.m. most Fridays-Saturdays, plus Dec. 21-22, Dec. 28-29; 1:30 and 5 p.m. most Sundays; closes Jan. 29
Tickets: $55 to $310
Contact: www.cirquedusoleil.com

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