Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA at Santa Monica Pier - Wonder and Delight

Cirque du Soleil KOOZA performers (Photo by Georja Umano)

New Waves of Imagination

(Santa Monica, Calif. - May 12, 2009)  Big-top show producer Cirque du Soleil held a press conference on sunny Santa Monica Beach today to announce that the troupe will be returning to the spot this fall with its show KOOZA. Tickets go on sale to the public on June 16 for a limited engagement of performances beginning October 16 and continuing until November 15.

KOOZA performers crown Mayor Ken Genser king for a day

This fall marks major milestones for both Cirque and this world-destination beach town. It will be 25 years since Cirque du Soleil was formed from an itinerant troupe of stilt walkers in Montreal, and in September it will be exactly 100 years since the opening of the Santa Monica Pier. As mentioned by emcee Karen Gay, Global Citizenship Director for Cirque, the timing of these two anniversaries is a wonderful "harmonic convergence."

The city will be sponsoring a succession of public events starting May 16 with Sideshow at the Pier, with music, comedy, magic and all kinds of street performers.  Performers from KOOZA will contribute to the festivities.  On September 9 will be a grand Centennial Sky Show Spectacular, in celebration of the Pier Centennial, and in October, the opening of KOOZA will help cap it all off.

The press corps turned out for bright sun, breakfast, and staged previews of clowning and acrobatics (Photo by Georja Umano)

Offering a brief welcoming speech to Cirque at the press event, Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser said that the return of the famous circus is "anticipated by so many people with joy and glee, rather like a visit from a creative, wacky relative. We're eagerly fixing up the guest room!"

Imaginative, fantasy costuming highlights Cirque's shows

Misti Kerns, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, expressed hope that Cirque will bring an increase in revenues in an off season during these economic times.

The stretch of beach by the pier where Cirque erects its familiar blue-and-yellow big-top tent was one of the first U.S. venues for the Quebec-based exhibition company. In the  '80s and into the '90s, the reappearance of the striped tent on the beach became a tradition of the local back-to-school season. That tradition seemed to flag, however, as Cirque apparently concentrated on expanding its other operations worldwide.

Serge Roy, KOOZA Director of Creation, Cirque du Soleil

Serge Roy, the Director of Creation of Cirque du Soleil and one of the original performers and creators 25 years ago, introduced the day's performance. He explained that KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions - acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. 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.

Diana and Yuri show off with the Santa Monica Pier and its new Ferris wheel in the background

Along with several extraordinarily colorful clowns and troupe members, the audience was treated to the stylings of "Duo Unicycle" or "Pas de Deux" performed by Diana Aleshchenko and Yuri Shavro.  Shavaro's sure-footed cycling while flinging and enabling the dazzling contortions of Aleshchenko was graceful and breath-taking.  Their movements were jaw-dropping as Aleshchenko did such impossible feats as wrapping her body like a pretzel around Shavro, standing in perfect balance on his head, all in harmony with the changing musical accompaniments.

Duo Unicycle performed by Diana Aleshchenko and Yuri Shavro

Throughout its history, Cirque has never used wildlife in its shows. This separates it from other circuses which dazzle audiences by seeing wild animals do unnatural things with their bodies for human entertainment.  This causes much suffering behind the scenes from the moment the animals are torn from their natural environments to the horrifying training and living conditions. (See Georja's article on animals in circuses.)

Cirque du Soleil proves you do not need wildlife to be a success. Today, it has more than 4,000 employees from over 40 different countries, including 1,000 performing artists. Since Cirque du Soleil's  founding, its shows have entertained almost 90 million spectators in over 200 cities on five continents. Just this year, Cirque will present 20 shows simultaneously throughout the world.

Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.
Gerald Everett Jones is the author of the Rollo Hemphill series of comic novels.

Photos by John Sciulli ©Berliner Studio/BEImages except as noted.

Cirque du Soleil KOOZA in Santa Monica

American Express Cardmembers preferred seating

Oct. 16 - Nov. 15, 2009

Tickets are available now through June 15 to Cirque Club members. Details on the Cirque website. Seats go on sale to the general public beginning June 16, via the 800 number or the website.

Ticket Prices
Adults $60 - 125
Children (2 - 12 years) $42 - 87.50
Students & Seniors $54 - 112.50

Adults $65 - 135
Children (2 - 12 years) $45.50 - 94.50

Santa Monica Performance Schedule
  • Tuesdays thru Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.
  • Fridays and Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • No performances on Mondays
Orange County performances (Great Park in Irvine) begin January 7, 2010

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