With its first sports-inspired big top show, “Volta,” the Cirque du Soleil could jumpstart your New Year’s Resolutions to get out and exercise more and even push yourself to do something daring. Currently at Dodger Stadium until 8 March 2020, this show features the familiar as well as some soaring don’t-try-this-at-home acts with the theme of celebrating your uniqueness because as the press release tells us, “Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance and the liberation of the judgment of others.” The motto for this show is: “Find your free.” That might make grammarians cringe, but it is catchy and if you get to the show early, you’ll have an opportunity to have photographs taken with that motto in the background as you seem to fly through the air BMX-style.
The show’s main character, Waz (Canadian Joey Arrigo) has blue feathers instead of hair on his head. This is revealed when he is a contestant on the “Mr. Wow Show.” You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone more ostentatious than Mr. Wow (Russian Andrey Kislitsin) in his gold metallic costume.
Other contestants on the “Mr. Wow Show” include Otaku Double Dutchers. You probably skipped rope a bit during grammar school and, if you became more proficient, tried some double dutch. This team from Japan in their white and silver costumes take it to the next level. Most of their tricks are safe to try at home.
Nivanildo Siqueira Silva performs the Cyr wheel. (You’ll see him again on the Trampowall later in the program.)
At first well-received, Waz is rejected when his peculiar crowning glory is revealed. Canadians might recognize leading man Arrigo. He was on Canada’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and served as an assistant choreographer for a few seasons before he joined the European tour of Cirque’s “Kooza” as the trickster clown.
After the awkward reveal, we flashback to Waz’s troubled youth. With photographs projected of a young Waz upstage while downstage another Waz (Nao Yoshida of Japan as Young Waz) performs on a flatland BMX bicycle with a ballerina (Rosina Gil from Uruguay as Waz’s mother). During this two-hour journey of discovery, we’ll see several Waz’s including San Francisco native ballet dancer Reed Tankersley. Others are South African Brandon Livanos on Swiss rings, American Darren Trull on straps and Polish Pawel Walczewski on ladders. That should give you a hint to the kind of things you’ll be seeing.
After the 25-minute intermission, you’ll see hair suspension artist Vanessa Ferreira Calado of Brazil. Her sinuous dance is definitely something you should not try at home or some hair-raising chaos might ensue. The finalé is an on-stage BMX park with riders jumping and crisscrossing while spinning their bikes or flipping in the air. It’s pretty spectacular and might get you out on your bicycle again.
When “Volta” ends, everyone comes out for a bow, including the many versions of Waz. A few lucky people will get to high five the cast, but the take away is that you can always take street sports to another level, one that can be entertaining to millions even without Emmy Award-winner Zaldy Goco’s colorful costumes. Just don’t forget the safety equipment.
As people filed out of the Big Top, a few were humming Anthony Gonzalez’s score. The departure from Dodger Stadium wasn’t too hectic opening night, preserving the good mood.
Los Angeles is the 13th city on the 16-city North American tour for “Volta.” Yet back in 1987, this city was the first US city every visited by Cirque du Soleil. That show, “Cirque Réinventé,” helped Cirque burst into international prominence. As of January 2020, Los Angeles has hosted 22 Cirque du Soleil shows, 15 of them Big Top shows.
“Volta” is a must-see for dancers, acrobats, street sports people, costume designers and musicians or just people who enjoy the Cirque-style circus. While not as expansive or grand as some of the Cirque shows (e.g. “Dralion”), this lighter more intimate Big Top show is more about looking in than looking out into imaginary worlds and imagining what you could be. Finding your free won’t be free, but if you can afford it, “Volta” is a wonderful way to begin the New Year.
“Volta” continues until 8 March 2020 at Dodger Stadium. Then it moves to the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa where the Big Top will be in residence from 18 March to 19 April, 2020. Tickets start at $49. For more information, call (877) 9CIRQUE or visit CirqueduSoleil.com/volta.