“Volta” is the Italian word for “turn.” The French term, volte-face, is a turn in the opposite direction, so it is intriguing that the Cirque du Soleil touring show, Volta, according to the press release, “…is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and recognizing one’s own power to make it possible. Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance, and with the liberation of the judgement of others.” Certainly a noble goal. As in all Cirque shows that I have seen and reviewed, the theme of each show provides a thin veneer of context and story as a platform for astounding physical feats performed by acrobats, aerialists, and dancers. They twist and turn high above the circular stage, on the stage proper, and other platforms, writhing, leaping, bouncing, skating, cycling, and contorting to sounds of music that is aggressively modern, or sometimes lyrical, as when the excellent musician, Camilla Bäckman, runs her bow across the strings of an electrical violin. As a singer, she joins with a nominal master of ceremonies, Eric DeShan, who accompany the action with songs throughout the show.
Other daring young performers demonstrate their skills on BMX bicycles with astounding feats of derring-do. My favorite moment of the first act is a pas de deux performed by a brilliant ballerina, (Rosina Gil), and a no less brilliant young man, Maxime Chalifour, who counters her moves with his BMX bike. More acts include the most vigorous bout of double-dutch you will ever see; high stakes acrobatics on trampolines; an aerialist, Vanessa Ferreira Calado, who swings high and low all over the performance area suspended only by her hair, and more.
Cirque du Soleil always provides moments of humor employed by a clown. This time it is Russian born Andrey Kislitsin. The comedian uses a sort of double talk language of his own device that contains a welcome soupçon of English as he creates, with precise movement, gestures, and noises of a madcap world, of agitated washing machines that have a wills of their own and later, a beach scene with a naughty little girl and a giant angry dad.
Near the end of the show, ballet dancer Joey Arrigo, who plays the role of the central character, WAZ, takes the stage for a terrific, soulful solo dance of touching poignance.
Volta’s closing act is a tour de force by six BMX athletes who create, in the words of the press release, “a full-blown BMX park…mounted on stage in front of the audience’s very eyes for the breathtaking finale as riders invade the stage to deliver a jaw-dropping, fast and furious performance of nonstop acrobatics on wheels. The riders go up the jump boxes and perform air tricks before landing and leaping off the ramps again, crisscrossing and spinning their bikes in midair in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Cirque du Soleil’s ethos maximizes the use of the latest technologies to enhance the performances. Extensive use of video, lighting effects, LED panels, and a movable bridge that raises and lowers on cue, excites the audience. And again, as always, Volta, like all Cirque de Soleil creations, boasts exquisite, fantastical costumes.
Volta is written and directed by Bastien Alexandre, leading the creative staff of Jean Guibert, Director of Creation; Bruce Rodgers, Set Designer; Zaldy Goco, Costume Designer; Anthony Gonzalez, Composer and Musical Director; Julie Perron, Choreographer; Martin Labrecque, Lighting Designer; Thibaut Duverneix,Video Content Designer; Jean-Michel Caron, Sound Designer; Anne Séguin Poirier, Props Designer; Rob Bollinger, Acrobatic Performance Designer; Philippe Aubertin, Acrobatic Performance Designer; Jaque Paquin, Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer; Eleni Uranis , Makeup Designer; and Manon Beaudoin, Character’s Guide.
Volta continues through March 8 at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.