High-Energy Cirque Back in Town

Cirque du Soleil is back in the Bay Area for four months with a new show with an urban, contemporary vibe that seems especially fitting for the place and time.

VOLTA – which opened on Thu., Nov. 15, in the gray-and-white striped Big Top outside AT&T Park – mixes street sports from Double Dutch to BMX with Cirque’s trademark acrobatics and artistry, set to a pulsing, high-energy electronic score.

The storyline follows Waz, who has lost his way and lost sight of his true self, becoming one of the legion of Greys, who march in lockstep while gazing into their glowing cell phones. They are in stark contrast to the rainbow-hued Freespirits, who embrace their individuality and freedom in stunning acrobatic maneuvers and guide Waz’s transformation. While the narrative is typically loose, it’s developed enough for kids to follow, with an affirming message about being yourself.

The story links a series of jaw-dropping performances, from aerialists dangling, swinging and spinning from bungees, rings, ladders and even hair to a flatland BMXer and unicyclist whose moves are evocative of ballet and ice skating pairs.

Among the highlights for my 12-year-old daughter was the fast-paced Trampowall, in which acrobats performed high-flying parkour-like stunts on a rotating double-sided trampoline separated by a soaring wall of platforms.

While many kids will be just as mesmerized, the electric guitar-heavy music can be loud, and an advertised running time of two hours and 15 minutes, with intermission, may be long for little ones, especially at the 8 p.m. shows. (And if the show runs long, as it did at the premier, the limited nighttime train schedule can be tricky for Caltrain riders. We needed to leave before the end to catch one of the last trains.)

The very unhealthy air in San Francisco from the Camp Fire did not seem to diminish opening night crowds, and the Big Top’s high-tech air filtration system seemed to keep the smoky air outside. Officials said they were monitoring air quality and doing additional filtration if needed, and that the tent must meet the same air quality requirement as other city buildings.

VOLTA is Cirque du Soleil’s 41st production since 1984 and its 18th show under the Big Top. It runs through Feb. 3, 2019, at AT&T’s Lot A, 74 Mission Rock St., and then will move to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose from Feb. 13 through March 24.

Tickets start at $54, with prices $10 less for children ages 2-12. Family packs are available with 10 percent off adult ticket prices. Parking in San Francisco is $25, cash only. For more information and tickets, visit cirquedusoleil.com/volta or call 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).

 Janine DeFao is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.


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