Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' at National Harbor - DC Theater Arts (2022)

Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' at National Harbor - DC Theater Arts (1)

Ardent fans of Cirque du Soleil attending the spectacular newAmalunawill recognize this as one of Cirque’s best tent shows ever.Now in its 30th year with a track record of more than two dozen unique productions, Cirque is typically circumspect about overpraising its shows so as not to overpromise an audience’s experience. But as a longtime aficionado (a Cirque-head, if you will), I honestly cannot think of a Cirque touring show any better.

Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' at National Harbor - DC Theater Arts (2)

Before I say why, a few words to anyone who has never seen Cirque live: Think dreams, story, movement, music, fantasy. Picture dancers, singers, musicians, acrobats, clowns. Imagine beauty, colors, creativity, physical strength, and virtuoso artistic feats.

Can’t do it, right? Can’t hold that much in your mind’s-eye all at once? Neither could I. Before I saw my first Cirque, all I knew was: Oh, that’s the circus without animals. Yay, PETA, blah blah. I had no idea what a wholly new art form I would find.

Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' at National Harbor - DC Theater Arts (3)

Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' at National Harbor - DC Theater Arts (4)

Cirque du Soleil's 'Amaluna' at National Harbor - DC Theater Arts (5)

(Video) Cirque Du Soleil's Amaluna at the National Harbor

The origins of Cirque go back to the early 1980s with a ragtag troupe of Québecois street performers who did juggling, acrobatics, stilt walking, and other circus arts. In 1982 they created a street performers’ festival, which was so successful it led to a show called Cirque du Soleil (circus of the sun). Cirque du Soleil has since carved out a unique style of performance, completely reinventing and reconceiving the traditional circus. Cirque introduced dramatic themes, music, dance, and virtuoso performances that connect audiences viscerally through emotion. With but one exception (Zumanity,which is adults-only), Cirque du Soleil is completely family friendly and genuinely appeals across generations.

At intermission I asked the parents of an eight-year-old how he was liking the show so far. “He’s enthralled,” said Mom right away as Dad nodded. Afterward I asked two ten-year-old boys for their views. “Amazing” and “awesome” they answered instantly. I did not happen to ask any girls, which was my oversight—especially considering the fact thatAmalunais a profoundly pro-female and female-centric theatrical spectacle.

“An ode to femininity and renewal,” says Cirque promo, with characteristic understatement. AmalunaDirector Diane Paulus—the Broadway legend behind such award-winning productions asPippinandThe Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess—has said, “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.” And wowza, did she ever.

Borrowing bits from Greek and Norse mythology, Mozart’sThe Magic Flute,and Shakespeare’s The Tempest,the extravaganza takes place on an imagined gynocratic island named Amaluna (a word Cirque coined to mean Mother Moon and a subliminal homage to menstruation).Amaluna is inhabited by the benevolent deities Prospera (Julie McInnes) and Moon Goddess (Andréanne Nadeau), a Caliban-esque creature named Cali (Viktor Kee), a beautiful ingenue named Miranda (Julia Mykhailova), Miranda’s clown of a nurse named Deeda (Sheeren Hickman), and a corps of fierce females who evidently aced martial arts class.

(Video) Amaluna

Scenic Designer Scott Pask and Lighting Designer Matthieu Larrivée have made a wondrous world of sea greens and blues beneath luminous foliage that looks like a rainforest canopy of phantasmagoricfiber-optic cable. Costume Designer Mérédith Caron has adorned the cast—from clowns to creatures to aerialists and tumblers—with sparkle and sheen and endless ingenuity. As we enter the tent, we hear Sound Designer Jacques Boucher’s tropical birdscape; soon vivid and booming effects punctuate the drama. Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard (aka Bob & Bill) have composed a lush, lovely, and rockin’ score, which is sung gloriously by McInnes and Jennifer Aubry and played by turns tenderly and muscularly by an all-woman band (McInnes on violoncello and sax, Didi Negron on drums, Mireille Marchal on percussions, Cassandra Faulconer on bass, Angie Swan and Rachel Wood on guitars).

Off-stage there looks to be gender parity (amongAmaluna’s creators are also Cirque Founder Guy Laliberé, Director of Creation Fernand Rainville, Choreographer Karole Armitage, Acrobatic Choreographers Karole Armitage and Debra Brown, Acrobatic Performance Designer Rob Bollinger). But onstage there decidedly is not. Besides the all-woman band, 70 percent of the cast are female. The overall effect is both powerful and nuance-a thrilling theatrical experience like none other.This is a world run by women who are brave, strong, and self-possessed, and who take up space without apology and own it without deference.Amalunamakes “leaning in” seem like child’s play on a jungle gym.

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Into this imaginary world come some men and the plot thickens: A storm blows up and a shipwrecked crew washes on shore entangled in fishing nets. Among them are a hunk and a clown, and each becomes smitten with an indigenous maiden.

The hunk is Romeo (Evgeny Kurkin), who falls for Miranda. Classically, there are impediments to their romance. Miranda’s mother is the shaman Prospera, who arranged the storm and otherwise oversees her daughter’s arc toward love. Thus in the first act Miranda finds herself aswim in a huge see-through waterbowl (I’m not sure why but it didn’t matter; the sight was stunning). Romeo leaps up on the lip of the bowl and takes off his shirt to join her. There were admiring oohs and ahhs from the audience (though this was carefully not played as a Chippendales moment), and their ensuing splash de deux was sweet and discreet.

In the second act Romeo athletically and longingly climbs a pole that reaches toward the flyspace where Miranda has been lifted by Moon Goddess—a breathtaking nod to the R&J balcony scene. At a point when his efforts fail to reach her, he heart-stoppingly plummets down the pole headfirst, stopping inches from the stage floor, as if so frustrated in his infatuation he flirts instead with death. What struck me was the extent to which this acrobatic feat—astonishing in its own right—had been given a storytelling raison d’être,and the performer had been given a character motivation as credible and compelling as in scripted drama. In the dozen or so Cirque shows I’ve attended, I’ve never seen the like.

Nor have I seen an aerial duo go at it with the impassioned ferociousness of Vanessa Fournier and Maxim Panteleenko playing Goddess and God of the Wind. Suspended from straps in midair, they fling and fly about overhead, together-apart/together-apart, with such perfectly balanced yet vehement sexual electricity they could be Cirque’s backup power source.

The clown washed up on Amaluna is Jeeves (Nathalie Claude), Romeo’s bumbling manservant, and he falls for Miranda’s nurse Deeda, who’s giddy and a bit dippy. In the second act there’s a hilarious scene in which Deeda, now very pregnant (contraception apparently not a biggie on Amaluna), goes into labor. With Jeeves’s comically inept obstetric assistance, Deeda delivers a brood of…well, whatever kind of babies clowns have. Astoundingly, Amalunamilks the comedy with utterly G-rated aplomb. At that and countless other moments, the thought came to mind: There’s a female director’s eye on all this. And that eye blazes with brilliance.

(Video) Behind the Scenes of Cirque du Soleil

Throughout, the visuals beggar description, as they invariably do with Cirque. Near the beginning, in the middle of a ritual circle of islanders floats a big red silk, mysteriously, as if animated by ancient spirits. Near the end another such silk appears, now blue, blown aloft like an apparition. The evocative simplicity is gorgeous. Two solo acts are especially arresting for a similar reason: They focus attention on a singular human skill, not claptrap apparatus. Kee as Cali stands atop the water bowl juggling and miming simultaneously; his dexterity tossing and catching balls together with his gestural specificity is riveting. Also on her own is Lili Chao-Rigolo as Balance Goddess, who assembles before our eyes, simply by balancing one wooden rib upon another, a huge mobile that looks like a fish skeleton sculpted by Alexander Calder. Her pace is slow and steady, precarious piece by piece. And as time seems to stop, the audience dares not breathe.

Of course the acrobatics must be seen to be believed; that’s quintessential Cirque. ButAmalunaputs its own spin on the stunts. For instance, the first act closes with a troupe of eight women warriors on uneven bars performing gymnastic antics with a vigor that is unequivocally virile. George Balanchine ballets conditioned generations of upscale audiences to expect to see female strength disguised as fragility in toe shoes, decorated in tutus. Not so inAmaluna,where these performers’ brusque shouts and stern miens declare unabashed power.

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Then cannily, Paulus opens the second act with four strapping shirtless men and a teeterboard. As they jump on it and bound from it, they turn somersaults in the air that would be idiotically daredevil but for the cohesion of trust and coordination that clearly unites them. And we see vigor on display that is exactly equal in virility to what we saw before intermission. The point could not be made more plainly. Nor, quite possibly, could a show celebrate gender equity more enthrallingly, awesomely, amazingly (to paraphrase those lucky unbiased boys).

Run away to this circus at once. You cannot imagine the extraordinary experience that awaits.

Running Time: About two hours and 20 minutes, including one 25-minute intermission.

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Amalunaplays through September 21, 2014, under the blue and yellow Big Top at National Harbor, 300 Waterfront Street, in Oxon Hill, MD. Tickets are available online,or call (800) 450-1480.

(Video) Behind the Scenes with Cirque's Amaluna in DC

Elizabeth Bruce, co-founder of Sanctuary Theatre, is an educator, theatre artist, and novelist who has worked with children and artists for over 30 years.. A member of Playwrights Forum, her scripts have been staged at Adventure Theatre, Washington Ethical Society, Howard University and Sanctuary Theatre, as well as Carpetbag Theatre as the Lucas Award winner.. LAST 30 DAYSLAST 365 DAYS BWW Reviews: Ambassador Theater's RAGE Boils Onstage at Flashpoint October 30, 2014 At Flashpoint's Mead Theatre Lab in downtown DC, Ambassador Theatre continues its tradition of provocative, daring theatre with its US premiere of Canadian playwright Michele Riml's hard-charging, intensely relevant two-actor script, RAGE.. The most recent version of the famous and often controversial opera, PORGY AND BESS by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin, re-titled as THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS, is now playing at DC's National Theatre through Dec. 29, 2013.. Eliot's THE ELDER STATESMAN-plus with their spring 2013 reading of Eliot's THE ROCK--Washington Stage Guild becomes the only theatre company in the world (as far as they can determine) to have produced all seven of Eliot's plays.

Riding the Washington Metro one morning I entered a car completely transmogrified into a rolling advertisement for the most recent production of the international entertainment conglomerate Cirque du Soleil.. Cirque du Soleil probably would never have taken shape anywhere other than in Quebec of the 1980s.. Two street performers – a juggler and a fire eater – applied for a provincial grant in 1984 to take their little troop Les Echassiers (The Waders) on a summer tour of Quebec to celebrate the 450 th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s voyage to Canada.. With a new government grant in their pockets, they hired Guy Caron from the recently established École nationale de cirque de Montréal and consolidated their group under the title Les Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil .. The initial public investment by Quebec taxpayers has paid off enormous dividends for Quebec and Montreal.. Montreal -- with its vibrant tradition of street culture; absence of established circus ensembles; strong related cultural sectors such as dance, theatre, music; and willingness to invest public funds into the arts – shaped what Cirque du Soleil could and would become.. More generally, the company’s approach fit into an incipient Montreal brand of circus performance that blended French nouveau cirque , Soviet acrobatics, and American entrepreneurship.. The support of American funders enabled Cirque du Soleil to continue to grow by leaps and bounds as they established a major presence in many entertainment centers around the globe.. Cirque du Soleil’s influence on Montreal in return extends beyond mere presence.. As home to so much circus talent, Montreal spawned a vibrant extended circus community including gifted offshoots such as Les 7 doigts de la main (7 Fingers), Cirque Éloze, and Cirque Alfonse.. These alternative companies are not mere imitations of Cirque du Soleil.. Les 7 doigts de la main also has worked closely with physical theater groups such as Gilles Maheu’s Carbone 14 and Robert Lepage’s groundbreaking Ex Machina, dance companies such as Édouard Lock’s La La La Human Steps as well as with musical groups such as Richard Ste-Marie’s La Fanfafonie.. The growth of Cirque du Soleil has been exceptional; even more so as it transpired at a time when the circus industry seemingly had entered a period of decline.. Hence, the marvelous in it.” Cirque du Soleil has taken that Montreal sensibility to the world.

Nina (Katie deBuys), Doyle (Cody Nickell), Emma (Kate Eastwood Norris), and Sorn (Rick Foucheux).. In fact, towards the end of the first act (a three-act play, compressed into 2 ½ hours with one 15-minute intermission), the company lines up in chairs downstage, a la Chorus Line , and reveals, one by one, their innermost longings—their subtexts, if you will—and we find that they are no more exalted than we, the humble audience.. The Seagull ’s focal character, Konstantin, now Con or Connie, an aspiring avant-garde playwright, loves Nina, still of the original name.. Nina, an aspiring actress, becomes infatuated with the famous novelist, Trigorin, now Trig, the lover of Connie’s celebrated mother, Irina, now Emma.. Entwined in this web of unfortunate passions, are Masha, now Mash, who loves Connie inconsolably, and Medvedenko, now Dev, Connie’s poor friend who loves Mash inconsolably.. The organizing principle, we learn from their confessions, of at least 4 characters’ lives–Emma, Trig, Con, and Nina—is a desire for fame and the adoration of an artistic public, wrapped up to varying degrees with a quest for artistry and originality.. Katie’s DeBuy’s Nina is like an unstable compound, fluctuating between the waif-like, ethereal young hopeful adored by Con, and the unrestrained seductress intent on winning Trig’s affections, only to end up utterly alone.. Pierce brings an understated, perfectly timed comic deference to Dev, who pines for his beloved Mash with a purity that belies his jesterish exterior.. Add to this Rick Foucheux’s masterful portrayal of Dr. Sorn, and the depth of Chekhov’s insight into the human heart resonates beyond the irony of our times.. Foucheux brings his signature wry and brilliant subtlety and nuance to this least celebrated and most masculine of characters, a deep disquiet hidden beneath the stabilizing role imposed on Sorn by family and world alike.. Kachman has stripped bare the stage, exposing all the walls and mechanisms of the theatre, much as Posner and Shalwitz expose all the machinations of the theatrical contracts between actor and character, audience and actors, playwright and players.. Costume Designer Laree Lentz has dressed the characters in modern garb that nonetheless evokes a Chekhovian era—Emma is glamorous and sleek, Mash is draped in Gothy black, Nina is clad in wafting, half-bare dresses, Trig’s European stylings suggest a debonair man of the world.. Clearly, musicianship, as well as actor craft, also abounds in this most talented ensemble that, like the audience, is once again having a riotously good time in Aaron Posner’s Stupid F***ing Bird.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 06: Cynthia Bailey attends the 2020 13th Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel on February 06, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.. There are currently rumors circulating that Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey Bravo won’t have a peach for the thirteenth season of Bravo’s hit show.. However, Bailey recently refuted the rumors during an interview with The Shade Room .. “I have no plans to leave RHOA at this time.. Every year there are rumors saying that I am getting fired, or not returning,” Bailey said.. I love my cast, and my Bravo family.. I am looking forward to next season.”. Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer.. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth.

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes recently confirmed that her contract for RHOA is currently being negotiated.. Nene’s holding out.’ That is not Nene.. The last three years there’s been a lot of talk that there have been so much issues with Nene and I don’t know why there’s a lot of different things coming from the other side.”. “One of the issues that we have addressed is that the other side said to my side that she calls herself a ‘queen’ and the ‘HBIC’ and quite frankly we are tired of hearing that.. Well, I am a queen.. I will continue to say I’m a queen because I am,” Leakes said of the matter.. Well, I addressed that already and I addressed that again because it was brought up so I figured we might as well address that again.. She also talked about how she was previously told that a “certain person” could no longer film with her, but she was saddened because she thought said person was “cool.” “I didn’t have a problem with them filming,” Leakes said before bringing up that that same person ended up showing up at the reunion.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: NeNe Leakes attends VH1 Hip Hop Honors: The 90s Game Changers at Paramount Studios on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.. “It only felt right to personally REMOVE MYSELF from the reunion!,” Leakes wrote on Instagram.. (the cookie lady, Mark & Kenya’s fake marriage, Dennis accusations, Snake gate and much more) but drilling me on subjets, muting me, flashing back to things that had happened to since the show has wrapped (like my relationship with Wendy while in quarantine).”. “After deciding that apologizing for certain things was only right.. Starting over with lil sis Porsha [Porsha Williams] was made fun of and here they go bringing someone on the reunion that I was personally told by executives wasn’t allowed on set anymore,” Leakes said.. “And this and so much more felt like the rules only applied to me and that I was being held to a different standard than others but you continue to be the judge.”. Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer.. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth.. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan.

Over the weekend, singer, songwriter, and reality TV star Kandi Burruss celebrated her 44th birthday with a #MaskOn party.. Burruss hosted an outdoor birthday bash in Atlanta which consisted of social distancing dancing, a #KandisMaskOnBday photo booth, and a beautiful cake decorated with pink flowers.. Burruss’ close friend Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta star Rasheeda was in attendance and appeared in a video on social media dancing alongside Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Harris.. Rasheeda also shared a video on her Instagram page of Kandi Burruss dancing in front of her photo booth.. “Today is my sis @kandi #birthday I love you to pieces!,” Rasheeda wrote in the caption of her post.. “We aren’t friends we family you understand my crazy a– & you know I don’t play about you wishing you many more!!!. Burruss’ husband, Todd Tucker gifted her an Audemars Piguet watch at her birthday bash.

Do you think that something could be worked out?” Hall asked Leakes.. I’m just as confused as you are.” Hall asked the reality TV star if she wanted to return to RHOA , and Leakes had no interest.. Thank you to all of you guys who have been showing me a lot of love and support as of late.. It has been hard and I have made the very hard and difficult decision to not be apart of Real Housewives of Atlanta season 13,” Leakes said.. You could have never told me that I would start on this little show and it still would be going strong 13, 14 years later.. I want to thank Bravo for all of the memories, the laughs, the tears.. Leakes then thanked her fans before addressing a previous report that made headlines that the reality TV star said she was not privy to.. Love you guys.


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