Not since Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor performed under the pouring rain in the 1952 Hollywood production of the musical sensation Singin’ in the Rain have I seen so much cascading and splashing water as I encountered (and some of sitting in the front rows will feel) during the spellbinding show on the set and the stage of LUZIA: A Waking Dream of Mexico. LUZIA is the breathtaking and thrilling new production by Cirque du Soleil’s brilliant and imaginative team of creative directors, choreographers, costume designers and composers, full of hypnotic musical interludes which create a tranquil and lovely ambience never overwhelmed by loud sounds.
Did I mention Fool Koller, the irresistibly phenomenal clown? Or the lanky contortionist Alexei Goloborodko, who does not seem to have a bone in his body? Or Laura Biondo, the energetic virtuoso soccer dancer, from whom Brandy Chastain, the U.S. gold medalist, would have loved to learn a few moves? Or Majo Cornejo, the magnificent chanteuse who takes us on the emotionally incandescent journey of the music of Mexico?
Water, water and more water, as we in California can only dream about, is wrapping, streaming, drenching, soaking, touching and caressing the luminous constellation of national and international performers from the United States, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Israel, France, Poland, the Netherlands, India and Guinea.
As their mesmerizing and fantastic voyage quenches the spirit and ignites their soul, LUZIA welcomes to its amazingly talented cast four Bay Area Hoop Divers and Chinese Pole specialists who shine to perfection by adding a touch of stratospheric versatility, unrestricted speed and superb artistic interpretation.
Dreams of performing did come true for Bay Area natives Maya Kesselman, of San Bruno; Marta Henderson of San Francisco; Devin Henderson of San Francisco and Dominic Cruz of Benicia. In my communications with the four Bay Area natives I was able to hear about their thrills of joining the world famous Cirque du Soleil and the LUZIA production.
Q: How did you end up in this show? How were you discovered?
MK: I was in a hoop diving trio called Trio Anneaux. We were working traveling Europe and we received an email inviting us to participate in a new Cirque du Soleil creation, LUZIA. We said we came as a group because we were part of our own company called Back Pocket, and they told us to have everyone be included!
MH: It was actually my brother Devin Henderson who was contacted for the hoop diving number. We were just about to start our own thing together so when they contacted him he referred them to me as well for hoop diving, and then we both got the job.
DH: I have been performing circus since I can remember and professionally now for 5 years, I was contacted by the casting department at Cirque who had knowledge that I was in between jobs and asked me if I wanted to be part of the show. I guess you could say I said “yes.”
DC: I ended up in LUZIA through a few friends. I’m part of…Back Pocket, comprised of seven hoop divers and acrobats, and when Cirque du Soleil contacted several of our group to participate in LUZIA, all of Back Pocket was suggested and hired.
Q: What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to «run away with the circus?»
MK: Any young aspiring artist should know that it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to succeed, but if you love what you do then follow through to the end, and it will be worth it.
MH: I guess I would tell them what my coach would tell me, «training is bitter,» but it is worth it in the end. So as long as you train hard the success at the end is that much better.
DH: Go for it! It has been the best decision of my life. I followed what I loved doing and to this day it hasn’t let me down. Oh… and stretch!!
Q: Were your parents circus performers? And who are/were your mentors and inspiration?
MK: My parents were not circus performers, but they love and support the arts, and are artists themselves. My mom is a painter, and my father a sculptor. My mentors have been my teachers, guiding me to always strive for excellence, and my family, reminding me to love myself and others wholeheartedly.
MH: Neither of my parents were in the circus. My mom is a nurse and my dad is a firefighter. I would say my biggest inspirations were my 3 older siblings. I’ve watched them my whole life so everything they did I wanted to do and circus was definitely something we all enjoyed doing together and could bond over. Also, my coach from San Francisco, Mr. Lu Yi. I wouldn’t have ever gotten this far if it wasn’t for him.
DH: No, although with 4 kids in the circus, that’s a common misconception. My older brother and the generations above me at the Circus Center in San Francisco inspired me, and my mentor and teacher master Lu Yi was a gift.
DC: My parents aren’t in the circus, but are very artistic themselves. My mother is a musician, teacher and founder of a youth choir. My father is a dentist, which doesn’t sound artistic, but part of his job is to make smiles beautiful. I think it takes some artistry to make beauty. Both my parents encouraged me and pushed to do what I loved, always motivating me to pursue circus and be happy. My two older brothers are also circus artists and are continuing inspirations in my life.
Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA: A Waking Dream of Mexico, runs in San Francisco through January 29, 2017 under the Grand Chapiteau, at AT&T Park and in San Jose from February 9 through March 19, 2017 at Taylor Street Bridge.
-For information visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/LUZIA/BayArea
-For tickets call 800-450-1480
-Ticket prices range from $49 – $310
Photo credit: Laurence Labat / Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi / 2016 Cirque du Soleil
Lina Broydo immigrated from Russia, then the Soviet Union, to Israel where she was educated and got married. After working at the University in Birmingham, England, she and her husband immigrated to the United States. She lives in Los Altos Hills, CA and writes about travel, art, style, entertainment, and sports. She hardly cooks or bakes, with no borsch or piroshky on her home cooking menu. Therefore, she makes reservations and enjoys dining out, mostly sushi.
By Lina Broydo