Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza bedazzles under the big top

It is could be argued that Quebec’s best contribution to the world is poutine. I would call Cirque du Soleil a close second.

What started off as a two-man group in 1984 has become a global entertainment empire, with shows travelling all around the world. Kooza and the big top are back in Vancouver this fall, and this latest show offers two hours of incredible entertainment with a perfect mix of humour, finesse, and strength.

You could say that the entertainment begins before the first acrobats hit the stage. Walking up to the grand chapiteau (big top), I was amazed by the massive size of the extravagant tent. I was also greeted with extravagant (read: extortionate) prices: $30 for parking and $7 for a bottle of pop. This made me weary that the show was nothing more than a cash grab for some rich Quebecois bigwigs who would use the money to fund the Montreal Canadiens. However, once the show started, all of my worries were put to bed.

I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil shows online and on TV before, but never in the flesh. The stunts always impressed me, but I didn’t truly appreciate how fantastic the acrobats’ athletic ability was until I saw them live at Kooza. Every act had me at the edge of my seat, whether it was juggling an absurd amount of items or performing death-defying backflips 50 feet in the air. Their inventive use of props kept the audience constantly on their toes, as each act was completely unique.

Another fantastic element of Kooza is its sense of humour. Though many people might think that clowns stopped being funny at the age of five, these ones kept everyone in the tent laughing all night long. Their style is slapstick and physical humour reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, and it was delivered perfectly. The performers also integrated the audience into the show excellently, bringing a couple of lucky ticketholders onto the stage to play along with their shenanigans.

The music and costumes at the show were also extremely well done. The live band was excellent all night long, and the pinnacle of their performance was a Whiplash-like drum solo during a set change, which was so impressive that even Terence Fletcher would say it followed his tempo. The singers were outstanding, too. For most Cirque du Soleil productions, the singing is done in either a made-up or foreign language, and this was the case for Kooza as well. However, this type of singing made the audience feel like they were transported to another country.

The show’s music, along with the outlandish yet wonderful costumes and gravity-defying stunts, gave me and everyone else in the tent a truly out-of-this-world experience.