Cirque du Soleil is back in Vancouver with a new-look “Alegria,” the circus company’s first show in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a run this spring, a 2,600-seat “Big Top” is set up at Concord Pacific Place as an “in the round” stage for the show’s 53 performers, including acrobats, clowns, musicians and singers from 19 countries.
Among them is German trapeze artist Nicolai Kuntz, who toured with the relaunched “Alegria” starting in 2018, two years before the pandemic shut down the circus.
With a safety line but no net, Kuntz performs his synchronized trapeze duo act on swings with a female partner, Julia.
“My character is an angel who is there to inspire the other characters to live in harmony,” explained Kuntz, who is thrilled to return to work with the Montreal-based touring circus.
“During the pandemic I did not have the chance to work – everything closed down and I went back to Germany,” he recalled. “I tried to stay in shape as much as I could, but that was tough with fitness studios closed as well. I found a place with a small trapeze and worked with that and tried to stay fit, waiting for a callback.”
On Wednesday afternoon (March 23), Kuntz spoke during a break in the Big Top’s artistic tent, where he and the other performers warm up, train, apply makeup and change into some elaborate costumes for “Alegria,” which opens Friday (March 25) and continues until June 5.
“We are here for more than three months,” noted tour publicist Francis Jalbert, who shed light a “joy” of a show – the title, in Spanish – that played in Seattle before arriving at False Creek, on the Rogers Arena side of the waterway.
The last time Cirque du Soleil toured to Vancouver was with “Luzia,” in the fall of 2019.
“This week is the first show in Canada for Cirque du Soliel since the pandemic, so as a Canadian company we are excited to finally be back performing in Canada,” Jalbert said. “For the company, there was a change of ownership during the pandemic, and now it has restarted. We are back full-force.”
Debuted in 1994, “Alegria” entertained an estimated 14 million spectators in 255 cities around the world before it was mothballed nearly two decades later.
Cirque du Soleil aims to bring some “joy” to Vancouver this spring with a re-imagined version of fan-favourite show from 1994.@Cirque #Alegria #cirquedusoleil
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— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) February 2, 2022
“The original version really helped to establish the reputation of Cirque du Soleil worldwide,” Jalbert confirmed. “When the show closed in 2013, we just didn’t know where to send it because it had been everywhere in the world. So then people started asking us to bring it back, and some of them didn’t have a chance to see ‘Alegria,’ so for its 25th anniversary we brought it back but re-imagined it completely. There are elements you can recognize from the original production but it’s like seeing a brand new show from today, not the one from 1994.”
The show is billed as “an uplifting immersive experience” for all ages, featuring Mr. Fleur, The Aristocrats, the Nymphs and other characters in acts including Acro Poles, German Wheel, Synchronized Trapeze Duo, Fire Knife Dance, Snowstorm and more.
The circus show’s script focuses on “a once-glorious kingdom that has lost its king,” where “Alegría witnesses the power struggle at play between the old order and a new movement yearning for hope and renewal.”
For the springtime dates in Vancouver, tickets can be purchased on cirquedusoleil.com/alegria.
Meantime, another touring circus will return to Surrey early this summer. Royal Canadian International Circus dates for 2022 include Cloverdale Fairgrounds from June 23 to 26, with eight shows inside a 2,700-seat “Big Top” tent, and additional performances in Richmond the following week.
The Calgary-based company’s North American tour will go to 15 locations for 189 shows from May till October this year, according to info posted on royalcanadiancircus.ca, where ticket sales started March 15.
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