The high-flying Cirque du Soleil always makes a big splash when it sets up the tent at Sam Houston Race Park, but with its latest show, Luzia, real rainstorms and liquid pools become intrinsic parts of the performances. Inspired by the landscapes and culture of Mexico, Luzia is the first Cirque du Soleil big top touring show to incorporate water throughout the production.
Taking audiences into a dream world of ancient architecture, the golden age of Mexican cinema, spirit animals, dance salons, soccer fields, and liquid cascades, Luzia will also give surrealist and watery twists to many of the acrobatic wonders Houston Cirque fans come every year to see. The performances explore various themes related to Mexican culture and mythology including speed, rain, nature, and a poetic vision of reality in may forms.
The show begins with parachutist falling into his own memories and then takes the audience through a magical journey into Mexican landscapes from myth and imagination. Along the way expect hoop-diving on treadmills, hand-balancing 20 feet above the stage, and a football (aka soccer) dance. Later in the show, look for a revolving Russian swing act, sending performers tumbling 33 feet into the air; mast and pole acrobatics; a high-swinging lucha libre wrestler taking to the air; juggling; clowns scuba diving, and a uproarious fiesta finale.
Several of the high-flying performances plunge these gravity-defying kinetic magicians into watery depths or shower them with rain. Cyr wheel artists spin across the stage and a trapeze aerialist twirls and dances in midair all the while drenched in a resplendent downpour.
In another section of the show, an artist representing a demigod of rain performs an aerial strap act, after emerging from a pool created to resemble the naturally occurring sinkholes the Mayans believed were gateways to the afterlife. Continuing his aerial dancing in the straps, he interacts with the life-sized puppet of a jaguar.
While audiences might marvel at this vibrant dreamscape onstage, another type of engineering artistry backstage (and under-stage) happens to create such spectacle. For example, according to the Luzia technical information, the stage floor has 94,657 holes through which the water drains into a 3,500-litre basin hidden underneath. The water must be filtered and disinfected everyday. Kept at a constant 82 degrees for the the artists health, all 1,585 gallons used during any performance will be recycled for the entire duration of this Houston run.
And though the overall vision might celebrate Mexico, an international cast and crew from 25 countries including, of course, Mexico, come together to create this Luzia surrealist world filled with vivid storms of color, music, comedy, and dance on earth and midair.
Cirque Du Soleil's Luzia runs at Sam Houston Race Park January 10-February 24. Visit the official site for tickets and showtimes.