Kooza is more than just clowning around - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Kooza is more than just clowning around

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Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012 12:00 pm

The highest level of acrobatics can be found in the touring production of Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza.

Michael G. Smith, artistic director of Kooza, said the production features some of the top performers from around the world. He’s excited that audiences will have the opportunity to see some amazing acts at their best.

“There is so much intensity to the show that people can’t help but to fall in love with what’s happening right under the big top,” Smith said.

Written and directed by David Shiner, Kooza is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions — acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful melange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor.

Kooza is showing through July 15 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The name Kooza is inspired by the Sanskrit word “koza,” which means “box,” “chest” or “treasure,” and was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a “circus in a box.”

Formed in 1984, the Canadian-based Cirque du Soleil mixes circus art and street entertainment together for a one-of-a-kind experience. The approach of the show is more character-driven and doesn’t feature animals, but that’s helped define it as a “contemporary circus.”

Cirque du Soleil has had many touring productions but also features a number of permanent shows at Walt Disney World Resort and Las Vegas, including The Beatles-inspired “Love.”

But Smith said he’s enjoyed the tours, especially Kooza.

“Here’s our opportunity to bring these shows to people who can’t get to Las Vegas or New York and really show them this universe,” Smith said.

In 2005, Smith joined Cirque du Soleil as artistic director for the Japanese and European tours. He later worked with the South American tour before Kooza.

Smith said Kooza represents a number of themes, especially following dreams and aspirations.

“It’s about the potential of hope and how we can dream and achieve so much,” said Smith. “People are doing the impossible everyday, and this show represents that.”

For many years, Smith said people have been fascinated with Cirque du Soleil performers and often wonder what it takes to perform with the troupe.

“The lifestyle of a Cirque du Soleil performer is incredibly hard work and you have to give up so many things,” said Smith.

“But our performers have so much drive and energy to make this career that you can tell when they’re out in front of audiences.”

IF YOU GO

What: Kooza

When: 8 p.m. Friday. Show runs through July 15.

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 Cardinals Dr., Glendale.

Cost: $35 to $130, adults; Specially priced tickets for children, seniors, military and students.

Information: (800) 450-1480 or www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza

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