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Mind-blowing moondancers of Cirque du Soleil's "Amaluna"

Superhuman Cirque du Redmond

"AMALUNA": Moon Goddess Marie-Michelle Faber is breathtaking. Press photo

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I've seen five Cirque du Soleil productions now and loved every one. They're circuses that forgo animals in favor of the staggering variety of things human beings can do, and they share a looseness of plot and fanciful, go-for-broke design philosophy. Just opened in Seattle is Cirque's newest touring show, a climate-controlled tent spectacle called Amaluna - from roots that suggest "Mother Moon." It's a loose evocation of The Tempest, except instead of Shakespeare's wild unnamed isle, we're transported to a matriarchal paradise presided over by elemental goddesses. Sorceress Prospera (singer Julie McInnes) assigns a lizard beast (juggler Viktor Kee) and various spirits to watch over her comely daughter, Miranda (Mongolian acrobat Ikhertsetseg Bayarsaikhan). That plan gets shipwrecked when Romeo, a stranded sailor, falls in love with Miranda. Spoiler alert: the forces of kindness, true love, and Quebecois whimsy prevail.

I've seen otherwise talkative people collapse into stammers trying to describe Cirque du Soleil, but I'll give it my best shot. It's like watching superheroes before your very eyes. What these performers accomplish without a single mistake, night after night and two matinees to boot, is breathtaking. When a trio of Valkyries launches 40 feet into the air, your heart goes with them, and there isn't a net. Their only visible safety gear is strength and determination. It's not often you can say, "Boy, I sure did enjoy that unicycle scene," but that's the beauty of Cirque. It takes acts you've seen dozens of times and amplifies them with unforgettable showmanship. This one establishes its own particular personality by focusing on a mostly-female cast.

If you've seen one of Cirque's fixed-location shows in Vegas, you know even opening the curtain becomes an absolute mind-blower. Amaluna opens with a smaller-scale version of this, a seemingly self-guided zephyr of silk. Looking up to the roof of the big top, we find the most sophisticated track system we've ever beheld, then quickly dismiss it, preferring to believe it's all magic. It's only after the show we wonder how it was all lit so beautifully, how the surround sound and music were implemented so impeccably in a tent, and how an international cast even manages to move in Mérédith Carson's imaginative costumes. I can tell you this: we were served gorgeous desserts in the Rouge tent, but none of those performers have eaten cupcakes in years. They're physical specimens so perfectly toned their bodies look bulletproof.

As with all Cirque shows, the clown gags are funny but last a bit too long, and the rock-concert volume might be loud for small children but mesmerizes them anyway. The little girls sitting beside us were enchanted. The tickets are pricey but worth every penny. For me, the highlight of this show was a one-of-a-kind act, Manipulation, in which Swiss "Balance Goddess" Lara Jacobs Rigolo approaches a stack of palm leaf ribs and 2,600 people hold their breath as ... y'know what? Words fail me, too. Just go see the crazy thing, and you're welcome. Cirque du Soleil in general, and Amaluna in particular, is more than a circus. It's a life event, superhuman in scale and achievement.


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