Please note: Although this review of Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna was carefully written to avoid revealing any major spoilers, if you wish to enter the giveaway for 4 tickets to the August 28 performance at 8pm at the National Harbor without seeing this review, simply scroll to the bottom of this post. Ticket information can be found at the bottom as well.
I am a big believer in teaching my daughters and stepdaughters that femininity can be both powerful and graceful. I believe that all too often our society tries to separate femininity from power, creating the stereotype that one must be "manly" to be strong.
I was invited to a performance of Amaluna at The National Harbor in Maryland and was given tickets for three guests. In the spirit of celebrating women, I chose to bring my stepdaughter, daughter-in-law, and a dear female friend, all of whom were just as enthralled and empowered by the show as I was.
|#CirqueSelfie with my powerfully female guests!|
“Amaluna is a tribute to the work and voice of women”, explains Director of Creation Fernand Rainville. “The show is a reflection on balance from a women’s perspective."
Director Diane Paulus, winner of a 2013 Tony Award (Pippin) says, “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 drew from a series of classical influences when creating the concept of the show; including tales from Greek and Norse mythology, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Here is the show's official description:
Amaluna invites the audience 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 which marks the passing of these insights and values from one generation to the next.
In the wake of a storm caused by Prospera, a group of young men lands on the island, triggering an epic, 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. The couple must face numerous demanding trials and overcome daunting setbacks before they can achieve mutual trust, faith and harmony.
Amaluna is a fusion of the words ama, which refers to “mother” in many languages, and luna, which means “moon”; a symbol of femininity that evokes both the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of goddess and protector of the planet. Amaluna is also the name of the mysterious island where this magical story unfolds.
Prospera and Miranda are the main female characters, along with The Moon Goddess who proves that confidence and strength can be alluringly feminine.
Prospera delivers a commanding, confident performance while Miranda is curious, energetic and mischievous.
Miranda's life-long friend, half-lizard, half-human Cali, opens the show by coyly interacting with the audience, immediately inviting them to enter the world of Amaluna. Spectacular peacocks and fanciful fairies are just a few of the other wondrous creatures that inhabit the island.
Cali is in love with Miranda while she views him as merely a pet. This unrequited love triggers Cali's jealousy, especially when Miranda becomes enthralled with the dashing Prince Romeo.
Romeo's manservant Jeeves and Miranda's childhood nurse Deeds, both clowns, provide comic relief in between acts and their adorable romance becomes a sweet story in and of itself.
The music performed live by the all-female band during the show has an edgy, hard rock feel as opposed to Cirque's usual soft and ethereal soundtrack. The bands' spiked hair and electric guitars blended perfectly with the theme of female power.
The acts were as mesmerizing as I had heard they would be (this was my first Cirque show ever), with my favorite being "Cerceau and Waterbowl" in which Miranda performs a challenging hand-balancing routine and dives in and out of the Waterbowl, all while Prince Romeo watches and eventually joins her to frolic and kiss for the first time in the water.
"Chinese Pole" and "Manipulation" were also my favorites as I joined the crowd in disbelieving stares and jaw-dropping awe over the mind-blowing feats pulled off by the artists.
The costumes worn by the band and artists were just as captivating and also added to the wonder of feminine empowerment and beauty.
The costume and the artist are inseparable in costume designer Mérédith Caron's mind. "One calls out to the other," she says. "It's a communion, a symbiotic relationship. But above all, it is the artist that I dress."
For example, Miranda wears linen, cambric and distressed velvet that is highly reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance and conveys Miranda's enthusiasm and thirst for discovery.
Take a look at the detail that goes into the peacock costumes alone for an understanding of how magnificent and intricate Amaluna's wardrobe really is:
The peacock costumes are made up of 14 layers of heat- pleated materials trimmed in leather and stretch metallic fabric. The tails open out to a “fan” of eight feet with hydraulic pistons that compensate for their weight. Made in the same proportion to the performers’ bodies as the bird’s fans have to theirs, the tails are attached to the artists with belts that hide the mechanisms under embroidered feathers. The skeleton and leaves of the fans are made of the same Fiberglass material used in the manufacture of fishing rods, and screen-printed metallic paper is glued to the leaves to recreate the iridescent look of peacock plumage.
We were able to stay after the show for a question and answer session with Amaluna's publicist Rowenna Dunn and Head of Wardrobe Larry Edwards where we learned fun and interesting behind the scenes facts about #CirqueLife.
I was mostly interested in hearing about the costumes so I was thrilled that Edwards was part of the Q&A session! I was fascinated to learn that more than 180 costumes are used in Amaluna and are made up of nearly 1,000 different items. 120 hours per week are spent on laundry alone!
Another fun fact: The Water-bowl which plays such a vital role in the story is 5’5” tall, 7’3” in diameter, and weighs 5,500 lbs when filled with water.
Take a look at this sneak peek of Amaluna to see for yourself how the costumes, acts, storyline, characters, set design and more, all come together to tell a mesmerizing tale:
I want to be an acrobat. Really bad. I'm doing yoga as soon as I get home, lol! #Amaluna @Cirque
— BlondeBlogger (@BlondeBlogger) August 10, 2014
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