Female empowerment, beauty and strength come in different forms. Set on a mysterious island run by goddesses, Cirque du Soleil’s show “Amaluna” gives voice to women through music, acrobatics, dance and other forms of artistry.
The 33rd show developed by Cirque du Soleil, “Amaluna” tells the story of the coming-of-age of Miranda, daughter of Queen Prospera. The next phase of her life is celebrated in a ceremony focusing on values such as rebirth, femininity and renewal.
When a group of sailors washes up on the island during a storm, Miranda falls in love with Romeo, and their love is tested in different ways. Their union is threatened by Cali, a half-lizard, half-human in love with Miranda.
Directed by Diane Paulus, the production features a strong cast of female artists and dancers and an all-female-band. The artists take on different roles as goddesses and warriors on the island.
The show director drew from Greek and Norse mythology and written works such as William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” when developing the production.
Prospera showcases her artistry in moments where she sings and plays the cello.
Prospera acts as the guiding force in the show, summoning a storm or directing other characters with her cello.
In one scene, the Balance Goddess teaches the importance of equilibrium by creating and balancing a structure made of palm leaf ribs.
The artists perform together in group numbers as well as solos and duets.
The show is presented in the round, offering a more interactive experience for the audience.
“I think that added an element of intimacy that for me right away as an artist, in this kind of a show, made it different than when you are onstage, and there is that fourth wall. Here, you really feel with the audience,” said Peacock Goddess Eira Glover.
In the show, different goddesses assist the queen in imparting wisdom on her daughter and her love interest.
The concept of love is explored in different ways throughout the show, including through the relationship between Prospera and her daughter.
“It’s not just this first hetero love between the young man and the young woman, but there’s this love of mother to daughter. There’s love of caring for each other. In some sense of me as the Peacock Goddess, I see it as connecting different worlds together,” Glover said.
One of the characters that appears in scenes throughout the show, the Peacock Goddess is presented in different forms and helps to teach lessons to Romeo and Miranda.
When she first appears before Romeo, she performs a number representative of the purity of first love. Later in the show, she is part of a darker number, inspired by Indonesian dance forms, in which she summons a portal to the underworld.
Her character goes through a journey throughout the show, as she is struggling with the concept of self-acceptance and love. Being part woman and part peacock plays into this.
“I pull a little bit from “Swan Lake,” the White Swan and the Black Swan. I’m at peace sometimes with this creature that I am, and at other moments, I’m rebelling against it. I’m finding limitations. I’m frustrated, and I’m in some sense envious of the human world and wanting to be part of it again… Yes, she has this role to play, and she has to pass on this message, but simultaneously she’s got her own stuff going on, her own messiness, and she’s trying to reconcile with her disappointments, her hopes and her aspirations. So, the peacock comes into that. It’s a part of who she is, and at times what she loves and how she expresses her beauty. At other moments, it’s utterly limiting, and she rejects it.”
From the beginning, Glover was given freedom to develop her character.
“They were very much open to allowing me to make this character fit my body, to having the role be something that I felt good in,” Glover said.
Glover brings a background in different dance forms, including ballet, contemporary, musical theater, tap and jazz, to the role.
Before becoming part of the cast for “Amaluna,” Glover did Cirque du Soleil’s “Delirium” and “The Beatles LOVE.” She has been with the company since 2006 and has portrayed characters such as a zebra, lizard and Eleanor Rigby.
Glover said that each show has been a different experience, and “Amaluna” appeals to her because of the strong female element.
“Like a lot of things in this political time, it’s shifting stories. It’s about seeing representations and hearing about different lives. ‘Amaluna’ is a story about a young woman’s coming of age, and it’s looking at all the elements of her life,” Glover said.
She said the focus on female characters is representative of a growing trend of women’s experiences becoming more central in the arts.
“You have women doing all sorts of roles. You have a woman as the main character. We have the band with women in it. The powerful warriors on the island are women. I like to think of this less as an anomaly and hopefully a shift towards women being a part of everything,” Glover said.
As the sole dancer in the show with a classical/contemporary background, she tries to bring another layer of feeling through her movements.
“I have my emotional experience as just a human being that I’m bringing to my performance, but also for me as a dancer, it’s really allowing a cathartic experience for the audience members, hoping that I touch them in some way that has them reflect on how they are feeling,” Glover said. “As a dancer, that is huge for me. That’s what I’m hoping to do all the time is to bring people into themselves and have a moment where they are reflecting on their life, maybe without even realizing but just a cathartic experience, a frustrating experience, beautiful experience or an escape, some kind of emotional experience.”
Glover said the show is visually appealing because of the different art forms that it spotlights.
“I think that one of the skills that Cirque du Soleil directors have tapped into is highlighting those differences versus trying to force artists to conform to an outside style. It is what makes it special,” Glover said. “‘Amuluna’ being a mixture of different skills, talents and expressions of art means that we are all very different. Even in the group numbers, you see the different styles and backgrounds. I think that adds to the richness of what you are seeing.”
Elements Within the Show
Cultures throughout the world have influenced the music, costuming and set design of “Amaluna.”
Costume designer Meredith Caron sought to combine more modern and ancient aesthetics, from different parts of the world, into the costumes.
The more than 130 costumes in the show are made up of over 1,000 different materials.
Caron was influenced by trends of the Elizabethan period and of Scandinavia and the Eastern world when developing the colorful costumes, many of which have removable parts.
She drew from mythology for the design of the warrior costumes, which have elements such as corsets and leather boots
The costume designer pays homage to and modernizes Renaissance styles with elements such as the denim doublets worn by the sailors and cambric, linen and distressed velvet fabric in Miranda’s costume.
The show has a multi-genre, contemporary sound, with featured instruments such as the guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and cello. Vocalists also help to bring drama to key moments in the show.
The score was developed by Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard, also known as Bob and Bill.
The all-female band shares the stage with the acrobats and wears colorful costumes inspired by rock, film and fashion trends.
The set adds to the immersive feeling of the show. The show is staged under a Big Top, and the set draws from elements in nature.
Set designer Scott Pask creates an enchanted island that is similar to an art installation, with bamboo visuals in the canopy and a peacock feather motif in the center of the stage.
A giant, clear water bowl serving as a set piece and apparatus, a revolving carousel and chandeliers with bent aluminum tubes are also part of the set.
Although the story is focused on the performers and their artistry, portions of the stage resolve to afford all of the audience members a better view of the action onstage.
The Show and Company
The show is put on by Cirque du Soleil, a company that started in 1984 in Montreal with 20 artists. The production company has grown to include 1,400 artists from 50 different countries.
The company has presented circus shows in over 450 countries throughout the world.
“Amaluna” premiered in Montreal in 2012 and since then has been performed all over the United States and in Canada, South America and Europe.
Creating the site for “Amaluna” takes eight days of work, and takedown requires three days.
The show is made up of 115 cast and crew members, who represent 22 different nationalities.
Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna”
Various times, through April 14
State Farm Stadium, 1 Cardinals Dr., Glendale
Tickets start at $40