In Canada, and across the globe, Cirque du Soleil is a name known for incredible acrobatics, beautiful costumes and enticing storylines. I’ve had the opportunity to see a couple of their live shows over the years, so I of course jumped at the opportunity to attend the opening night performance of their new show VOLTA, playing in the Capital region for the month of August.
When we arrived at the Zibi site in Gatineau, QC (over the Portage Bridge from Ottawa), the massive circus tent was definitely not hard to miss! We entered the first section of tent where we were able to purchase concessions such as cotton candy, popcorn and nachos to enjoy during the show. I brought my 12 year old son as my “date” for the evening, this being his first ever experience with Cirque du Soleil! We were also pleasantly surprised to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just a few rows ahead of us in the audience!
As expected in a Cirque production, the skill level of the cast is beyond incredible. Parkour, skipping, acrobatic ladders, and Swiss rings was amazing and exciting to watch, while the MC/ringmaster (and clown for the evening) kept the crowd giggling between segments. The music was a perfect accompaniment, with some of the musicians actually appearing on the moving stage while the action was going on around them. For one performance, four drummers were even suspended by cables high above the stage while they played!
The storyline went a bit over my son’s head, but I was able to explain during intermission so he could better understand the second half of the show. He still thoroughly enjoyed the performances and during the clown segments, it was clear all the children in the room were laughing the hardest!
Among the highlights were some unique performances! I can honestly say I’ve never before seen “hair suspension”, and the idea sounded a bit strange, but it was definitely the wow-moment of the evening. The entire audience was captivated as the acrobat, with only a cable attached to her hair, performed movements involving swinging, spinning and being lifted high in to the air! It was both beautiful and nerve-wracking to witness!
Another highlight of the evening was a pair performing a hand-to-hand on unicycle – essentially a man was riding a unicycle while his partner performed an athletic routine in his arms. By the end, she was standing upright with both feet balancing on the top of his head!
The BMX bicycles were definitely among the audience favourites, closing out the show with a high-energy performance titled Momentum, where five cyclists rode on transparent ramps performing difficult tricks.
VOLTA got 4 thumbs up from us! It’s playing for the rest of August in Gatineau, then moving on to Toronto for fall. You can get tickets here.