Event Review: AMALUNA from Cirque du Soleil

Amaluna, finding balance in a world of creativity and destruction

Annually my complex dreams of running away and joining the circus are tamed by the eccentric and energizing performances by Cirque Du Soleil. I dream, I reconcile my emotions about my choices to attend college for theater instead (glad I did, I’m afraid of heights) and then marvel at the amazing worldly talents that bring us under the grand tents of Cirque. Funny enough, the narrative, whether it be straight forward or complex and intersectional, is always reflective of the human condition, the endurance of the human body, the psychology of laughter and the awe of suspense. There is a fined tune machine here that knows what it is, and we come to explore, indulge and run away with it.

Yet, Amaluna, Cirque’s newest adventure brings something different. As an artist, professor and researcher now of psychology and health, I noticed something altogether different here. The performance narrative, albeit strung together with a young love romance, wasn’t simply about love and happy endings. It was about the ideas of creativity and destruction. The world is complex with relationships to ourselves, our pets and our identity. Most importantly, in today’s American landscape, we enter a world of female identified bodies, exhibiting community, strength and and resilience. From the moment the show started, to the moment it ended, I consistently marveled at the narrative of our intersections as people. My mother in-law sitting next to me stated on the way home, that she was happy to have seen women dominating the cast, and felt connected to the story. I too agreed, as a queer man, something felt both thrilling and different about this production. It was that the circus tricks, the world, the lighting were complementary to the narrative of our shared experience outside of the usual equation.

There was no strict villain, but complex intersections of identity, confusion and jealousy. Without spoiling the plot, be careful of your pets and your new love interest.

The standout performance was by Balance Goddess, Lili Ciao. Her performance, a newer trick to grace the stages from Cirque was breathtaking. With each movement of her body, we collectively held our breath, knowing that no bodies were at stake… it was a balance act, but we knew so much was held in that moment, of creating beauty out of a bundle of sticks… of sharing in our awe herself. Then, masterfully, watching the creation of balance in the making juxtaposed by a smile and swift dance of destruction. It was metaphorical, it was magical. It was life. We felt a sense of ambiguous loss as an audience as she destroyed the beauty she creates, yet smiles and thanks us for sharing in that moment, because isn’t that what it’s all about? Presence? Just being present with one another. All good things come to an end. Life, in a moment. A beautiful metaphor well received by the audience.

I look at my husband, family, friends and fellow audiences and smiled. We were there, living for one moment. There is no price that can make up for this shared experience of grace. But there are tickets available, and you should go. Or better yet, gift it to friends and family if you can’t. We all deserve to sit in the human experience, listen, laugh and cry. Words aren’t needed. We all understand the balancing act that is life.

Amaluna is Under the Big Top in Oaks at The Greater Philadelphia Expo until August 25th.  Grab your tickets for here!


About your reviewer:
Peter Andrew Danzig is an actor, choreographer, arts management consultant and Professor. Peter’s work has been seen on-screen in films such as Paranoia and guest roles on television for Pan Am, One Life to Live, Forever and others. Theatrically, his work as an actor, choreographer and teaching artist has spanned New York and Philadelphia, having the pleasure of working with organizations such as Simpatico Theatre Project, EgoPo, Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theater, 11th Hour Theater Company, Warren Productions and many others. He’s also been Barrymore nominated for his movement work on It Girl, with Simpatico Theater Project.
A proud member of Actors Equity Association and SAG- AFTRA, Peter served as the Professional Development Consultant for SAG Philadelphia from 2014-2016 and as a member of the AEA Liaison Committee from 2014-2016. He presently serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for Theatre Philadelphia and the Board of Directors for Bright Invention. In 2014, Peter founded Theatrical Trainer, the nations first holistic wellness organization devoted to research and programming serving mental health and physical wellness specifically for creative artists of all disciplines. He’s been profiled in American Theatre and The Wall Street Journal for his research and contributions to the field of Theatre Arts. His social advocacy project, The Body Aesthetic Project has been supported in Philadelphia through grants to expose body dysmorphia in the arts.
As a professor he’s also taught at Drexel University, University of the Arts, NYFA, West Chester University and University of Pennsylvania. He’s also served in recruiting and auditioning for the BFA program at University of the Arts as well as administratively in the President’s Office and for special events, coordinating and assisting in creating the Hamilton Hall Public Art Initiative.
Peter earned his B.A. in theatre arts (acting concentration) at Temple University and was awarded a full scholarship as the Acting Scholar at Villanova (acting concentration), where he attained his M.A. in Theatre. Presently, he is pursuing a terminal degree in mental health and social advocacy at Bryn Mawr College, hoping to further change the landscape of wellness in the arts and collaboration among multiple disciplines.  Peter is presently furthering research in psychology for creative individuals and is dedicated to becoming a Psychologist dedicated to this population.
“Can there be a clinical approach in social work and psychology that allows for holistic approaches to wellness to meld with creative arts practice in which we not only emphasize the artistic practitioners use as a tool to help others- but in finding ways for them to help themselves? Can we further explore the creative mind through science and method-based practice to investigate why creative types are susceptible to anxiety, depression, isolation, addiction and other mental health conditions? Is it the chicken or the egg- or better yet, the artistic mind or the diagnosis?”
For more information on Peter’s work, please visit http://www.peterandrewdanzig.com.

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