High-voltage acts power Cirque’s new Volta

Nov 16

High-voltage acts power Cirque’s new <i>Volta</i>

The new touring spectacle, Volta, opened Thursday night under a gray-and-white-striped tent in the AT&T Park for a nearly three-month run before heading down to San Jose. It's a high energy show with more sparkle and verve than the requisite Cirque pretension, and it was a welcome relief to the smoke-choked air that was strangling the world outside the tent.

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Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia low on thrills, big on beauty

Nov 18

Cirque du Soleil’s <i>Luzia</i> low on thrills, big on beauty

Having seen abundant Cirque du Soleil shows over the years, I've come to think of them as lovely packages. It's not what's inside the package that intrigues – we know each one will be filled with some of the world's best acrobats, assorted clowns and acts that range from prosaic to heartstopping, dopey to achingly beautiful. So it's not the content so much as the packaging itself that makes the arrival of a new Cirque show so exciting.

The newest touring show, Luzia is subtitled "a waking dream of Mexico" ...

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Cirque’s Kurios: Happy, happy, joy, joy

Nov 15

Cirque’s <i>Kurios</i>: Happy, happy, joy, joy

An acrobatic act called “Banquine” is part of the latest Cirque du Soleil touring show, Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities, written and directed by Michel Laprise and running through Jan. 18 under the blue-and-yellow-striped tent in the parking lot at AT&T Park. Below: A prelude to the act “Rola Bola.” Photos by Martin Girard...

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Amaluna captures a tempest under a big-top

Nov 16

<i>Amaluna</i> captures a tempest under a big-top

The last time Cirque du Soleil rolled through town with Totem in 2011, the company seemed refreshed and revived. Gone was the pretentious stuttering and back was the purely enjoyable spectacle and thrill.

Now with Amaluna, the company's 32nd show since 1984, they remain firmly in that mind-blowing, eye candy groove, and it feels so good. Broadway veteran Diane Paulus is at the helm, and though there's a vague attempt to riff on an all-female version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, but that really seems an excuse to hire a lot of great women (including a kick-ass, all-girl band) and put on an eye-popping pageant.

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Thrilling return to form in trippy Totem

Oct 30

Thrilling return to form in trippy <i>Totem</i>

It's never good to speak ill of those no longer with us, but the last touring Cirque du Soleil show that stopped in San Francisco, Ovo, was all about the insect world. And truth be told, it bugged. The show only added to my Cirque fatigue – a feeling that my enthusiasm for the company, which had once thrilled me beyond belief, was wearing terribly thin.

But then along comes Totem, the latest touring show from the Montreal-based circus empire, and the enthusiasm barometer rises again. This show, playing in the yellow-and-blue striped "grand chapiteau" behind AT&T Park, returns a sense of wonder to the big top. There's visual magic in this show and scenes of breathtaking beauty.

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Kym Barrett designs a Cirque evolution

Oct 27

Kym Barrett designs a Cirque evolution

You don't go to a Cirque du Soleil show just to see the costumes. Audiences are usually slathering for the death-defying acrobatics and goofy clowns. But what separates a Cirque show from the rest of the circus fray is the spectacle, and that certainly has a lot to do with the costumes.

The latest touring Cirque opus is Totem, another artsy epic under a blue-and-yellow striped tent behind AT&T Park. The theme for this show is evolution, and the costumes are by a charming Australian designer named Kym Barrett. She's best known for her work in movies – perhaps you've seen one of the Matrix movies or Speed Racer? If you haven't caught one of those, you can check out her work in the upcoming reboot of the Spider-man franchise and the film adaptation of the hit novel Cloud Atlas.

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