I was given a ticket to see Cirque de Soleil’s production of Amaluna at the Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. Amaluna features a mostly (70%) female cast and all female musicians, directed by Tony winner, Diane Paulus. Given this information, I was expecting something a bit different, say, with the young princess being a heroine; however, tradition prevails, and she is ultimately rescued by a prince. The story is about a mysterious Island called Amaluna, which is ruled by goddesses and guided by the moon. Its queen, Prospera, is preparing for her daughter Miranda’s coming-of-age ceremony and creates a storm by playing a resonant cello solo to bring up a ferocious storm that will cause a passing ship with possible suitors for Miranda to stop at the Amaluna port.
As the Moon Goddess appears and is giving Miranda her blessing, one of the sailors, Romeo, watches her playing in a waterbowl. He is smitten as she shows her acrobatic skills and amazingly lithe body, achieving major contortions that look effortless, and he notices her sense of humor and teasing personality. When she jumps into the water, he dives in after her, and they kiss briefly after playfully swimming in the water, and Miranda departs. Miranda has fallen in love with Romeo, but they must surmount a number of obstacles before they can hope to be together.
One obstacle is created by Cali, half-lizard, half-human, for although Miranda regards him as a lovable pet, he has fallen in love with her. Seeing the two young people together in the water rouses his jealousy, and he captures Romeo, making him his prisoner in the water bowl.
To coach the two lovers in the art of balance, Prospera takes them to observe the Balance Goddess whose slow, deliberate movements in navigating herself inside a wheel made from palm leaf ribs epitomizes balance itself. After this, their trials will begin.
All the sailors are imprisoned, and in their boredom the men vault up and down on a seesaw-like structure high up in the sky, some landing impressively on another’s upturned palms, another on a nearby platform, or running across the seesaw from one end to the other.
Romeo makes an effort to reunite with Miranda by climbing up a pole to her living quarters, showing his sheer muscular strength and agility. Alas, he falls back to the ground time after time, like Sisyphus trying to get up a mountain. But he is determined to make it to his love, and their wedding at the end is truly spectacular.
Amaluna’s performances in Houston are ongoing through March 22nd.