Monthly Archive for: ‘November, 2018’

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’ makes 2 hours vanish lickety-split

Bicyclists leave ramps and launch themselves into the air in “Volta.” Photo by Matt Beard.

In the beginning, God — no, make that a troupe of performers led by a guy named Guy Laliberté — created Cirque du Soleil in Canada.

And it was good.

No, actually, it was great.

It featured stellar circus acts and no animals, unique for its time.

And when the troupe first came to San Francisco with Cirque Réinventéin 1988, and in subsequent years, I was enthralled by its mystical storylines and stagecraft, airy-fairy music with invented languages, and costumes that were breathtakingly avant-garde, innovative and imaginative.

This year’s “Volta,” which stresses performers more than stagecraft, doesn’t quite live up to my multi-colored memory of those shows — despite fringed quasi-dystopian costumes by Zaldy Coco that provide as much eye candy as a stash of Hershey kisses.

The production nevertheless managed to plaster a smile on my face for two incredibly fast-paced hours.

Danila Bim hangs from her hair in “Volta.” Photo by Benoit Z. Leroux.

For me and the other 1,200 souls cramming the massive tent behind AT&T Park, the opening-night show-stopper was Brazilian Danila Bim dancing in air while dangling from her hair.

But my eyes also stayed glued to the quintet of BMX cyclists spinning 360 degrees in the air after zooming off four ramps, a group of tumblers bouncing spectacularly high from a trampoline adjacent to a cutting-edge wall, and a chorus of zombie-like street characters wearing quasi-dystopian costumes and wielding cellphones.

Not to mention dancers rebounding on bungee cords, rocket-speed rope-skippers, acrobats on a towering ladder, aerialists hanging one-armed from tight straps, a wandering violinist-singer and electronic rock music and a thunderous drum beat, a grandstanding hand-stander, and a duet with a bicyclist and a ballerina.

Plus one roller-skater.

The only time my attention waned was during two clown wedges — one before intermission featuring washing machines running amok, one after intermission involving a hallucinogenic episode beyond my pay grade and comprehension.

Youngsters near where I sat laughed and squealed in delight at both those segments, however.

Best as I can figure, this year’s theme is filling ones potential (as personified by Waz, aka Joey Arrigo, an insecure youthful character with blue feathers where his hair should be) — against a backdrop of street sports.

This 41st original production of Cirque du Soleil, and the 18th under its big top, will certainly bolster the troupe’s numbers — having played to 190 million spectators in 450 cities on six continents.

“Volta” chorus, in quasi-dystopian costumes and wielding cells, marches zombie-like in unison. Photo by Matt Beard.

Roadway construction makes exiting the show a bit problematical but that shouldn’t begin to put a damper on a pleasure-packed evening (or matinee, for that matter).

“Volta” is one of the best Cirques in recent years.

Don’t believe me?

Ask any members of the audience since their collective clapping and cheering were at times ear-shattering.

“Volta” plays in the big top behind AT&T Park in San Francisco through Feb. 3. Night performances, 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; matinees, 1:30 and 5 Sundays, 4:30 Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets: $54 to $210 Information: (800) 924-7783 or www.cirquedusoleil.

Contact Woody Weingarten at


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