Cirque du Soleil Big Top KoozaCirque du Soleil’s trademark blue-and-yellow Big Top has been raised in Sydney in preparation for the opening of KOOZA at the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park from Thursday 25 August 2016.

A sparkling, colourful homage to the traditions of circus, Cirque du Soleil rediscovers its origins with the company’s eighth Big Top show to tour Australia. A return to the intimate and fundamental human elements of circus, KOOZA combines thrilling acrobatic performance with the art of clowning. We follow The Innocent as he takes a journey of self-discovery through a comic kingdom of eccentric characters, electrifying thrills and out-of-the-box surprises.

The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor. The Innocent’s journey brings him into contact with a panoply of comic characters such as the King, the Trickster and the Obnoxious Tourist and his Bad Dog. Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, KOOZA explores themes of fear, identity, recognition and power.

KOOZA is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad,” says the show’s writer and director David Shiner. “The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s very much about ideas, too. As it evolves, we are exploring concepts such as fear, identity, recognition and power.”

One of eighteen Cirque du Soleil shows performing around the world, KOOZA made its premiere in April 2007 in Montréal, Canada, and has since played in over 47 cities in 12 countries, on three different continents. Inspired by the Sanskrit word koza – which means box, chest or treasure, the name KOOZA was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a “circus in a box.”

The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement featuring an international cast of 50 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors presenting heart-stopping feats and laugh-out-loud antics to a live soundtrack fusion of jazz, funk and Bollywood beats.

KOOZA’s set evokes a public square that morphs into a circus ring. The circular stage – the highest stage ever designed by Cirque du Soleil, provides the audience with excellent sight lines through 260 degrees. There has been no attempt to conceal or disguise the acrobatic equipment. The structure of the big top is always in full view. Everything is done out in the open with simplicity and transparency in order to focus attention on the artists and the acrobatic performances.

Costume designer Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt has drawn on a wide variety of sources of inspiration: everything from graphic novels, the painter Klimt, Mad Max movies, time travel movies to India and Eastern Europe. She was also inspired by clock movements, tin soldiers, marching band uniforms and children’s book illustrations. All this merges to create a look that alludes to Alice in Wonderland, Baron Munchaüsen and the Wizard of Oz.

“What is special about this new production is that Cirque introduces some carefully choreographed chaos and old-fashioned sideshow spark… the real pleasures are the genuinely funny clowns.” – The New York Times

KOOZA opens in Sydney on Thursday 25 August 2016, before touring to Brisbane (from 24 November 2016), Melbourne (from 20 January 2017) and Perth (from 13 April 2017 ). For more information, visit: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza for details.

Image: Cirque du Soleil’s trademark blue-and-yellow Big Top has arrived in Sydney for Kooza (supplied)