Cirque du Soleil’s newest production VOLTA thrills San Jose audiences with a mix of familiar acts and a new extreme sport theme that truly leaves you saying WOW!
VOLTA is the story of a boy, Woz, who is on a quest to find self-acceptance after a life of being ridiculed because he is different. Believing fame to be the answer to his problems, Woz enters a major gameshow. When he realizes fame is not the answer to his problems, Woz wanders through the show trying to connect with one street sport to another.
One thing that differentiates Cirque du Soleil from other shows is that they weave a story into the performances. The story in VOLTA is relatively weak, and honestly, that is fine. The real joy is not at all in watching Woz’s transformation, but rather the showcase of talent amongst the wanderers he meets along his journey.
Among the many amazing acts, there is dazzling rope jumping sequence, aerial stunts, a group swinging ring / bungee act, people diving through shapes (when even mistakes are impressive) and then some more unusual feats such as the unicycle, roller skate, and dance routine. Of course there was a clown portion of the show that had the youngest audience members in stitches. Andrey Kislitsin was charismatic and engaging as both Mr. Wow and the clown.
For me, the more exciting elements include “the trampowall”, an act of eight acrobats springing off and onto a wall, which was both terrifying and amazing to watch. Each performer would flip, and fall and jump from the wall onto a trampoline only to flip some more and gracefully land back on the wall. The number of times they narrowly landed back on the wall or nearly hit one another as they were all flying through the air was definitely impressive. The hair suspension dance was also completely mesmerizing. I don’t know who came up with the idea to hang someone by their hair, but I could not take my eyes off Dailla Bim as she floated off the ground flittering about the stage. The dance was elegant and beautiful and unlike anything I have seen. Like most good circus acts though, much of the excitement of the performance is the scare you feel watching, knowing that the only thing holding her in the air is her hair.
Sadly, we were unable to see the shows big spectacular BMX finale. One of the riders was ill, so they decided not to perform. Given some of the accidents that have plagued this production, I am happy they put the performer’s safety over the show. The riders are back in action now though and the finale is apparently spectacular. Even with the missing act, the real problems with VOLTA have everything to do with the new location. After years of setting up the big tent near downtown San Jose, VOLTA has a new home at the San Jose Fairgrounds (or rather the parking lot of the fairgrounds). Maybe I am just resistant to change, but I found the new location to be a real take away. There are no great pre-show dining options nearby, no light rail access and a $20 fee to park on a lot that was very rough sea of massive puddles and potholes. The producers obviously cannot control the weather, but the facilities did not fare well with the rain and it likely had to do with it being opening night, but the crew seemed ill prepared to manage all the difficulties associated with the rain.
Opening night and location hiccups aside, VOLTA is fresh, fun and truly is one of the stronger shows in the Cirque lineup. Over 30 years of designing circus performances and they somehow manage to keep the content fresh and entertaining for all.
Tickets for Cirque du Soleil VOLTA are available for purchase by visiting www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta or calling 1-877-9CIRQUE.