The signature blue and yellow “grand chapiteau” will rise again at Sun Life Stadium this week when Cirque du Soleil returns with its newest touring production, “Amaluna,” but South Florida audiences will be treated with a different kind of show.
Written and directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, the Canadian circus troupe’s 33rd production is a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voices of women.
According to Cirque du Soleil’s director of creation, Fernand Rainville, the title of the show is a fusion of the words “ama,” which refers to “mother” in several languages, and “luna,” or “moon.”
“Amaluna” serves as a symbol of the femininity of both the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of a goddess and protector of the planet. It is also the name of the mysterious island that is the setting for production.
Cirque du Soleil’s design team, choreographers and international performers take audiences to a mysterious island governed by goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon. Their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter's coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honors femininity, renewal, rebirth and balance, symbolically passing these insights and values from one generation to the next.
In the wake of a storm created by Prospera, a group of young men washes ashore the island, triggering an epic and emotional story of love between Prospera's daughter and a brave young suitor. But theirs is a love that will be put to the test and the couple must face numerous demanding trials before they can achieve mutual trust, faith and harmony.
The story “is a tribute to the work and voice of women,” explained Rainville, who noted the cast is nearly 70 percent women and the band is comprised entirely of women. "The show is a reflection on balance from a women's perspective.”
Paulus, the Tony Award-winning director of “Pippin” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess,” was a natural to develop the story and lead the production. She drew from many classical sources, including Greek and Norse mythology, Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute,” and Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” for inspiration. Perhaps, even a little bit of “Wonder Woman.”
"I didn't want to build a 'women's agenda' show. I wanted to create a show with women at the center of it, something that had a hidden story that featured women as the heroines,” Paulus has said about “Amaluna.”
For company manager Franck Hanselman, “Amaluna” is still about “girl power.”
“I use that term a lot,” he said via telephone from the band’s previous stop in Atlanta. “It celebrates women and femininity….it’s different, but audiences will still recognize it as a Cirque du Soleil show.”
Like all Cirque du Soleil productions, audiences will again be wowed by an international cast of tumblers, jugglers, clowns and dancers, incredible costumes and an original musical score.
Hanselman singled out two elements—the all female band and the 3-ton water bowl—that really make this production distinctive. The music is influenced by rock anthems and the performances in the water bowl, in contrast, are balletic and beautiful. Audiences have also responded strongly to Paulus’ direction, frequently sending the performers from the stage into the seating areas.
He’s definitely not surprised the show has garnered standing ovations night after night, especially from the little girls in the audience who are empowered by the show’s message.
Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna” will be presented Dec. 11 – Jan. 4 in the Grand Chapiteau at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. Tickets start at $30 at CirqueDuSoleil.com.