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Cirque du Soleil returns to San Diego with "KOOZA," its big-top production

SAN DIEGO -- Cirque du Soleil's "KOOZA" tells the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world.

Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, "KOOZA" explores themes of fear, identity, recognition and power. The show is set in an exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

It also marks 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.

“ 'KOOZA' is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad”, said David Shiner, the show's director and writer. “The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s very much about ideas, too."

The Acts (in alphabetical order)

The House Troupe consists of 19 actors who burst into action combining acrobatics, rapid-fire costume changes and rebounds from three miniature trampolines set in the stage. Act highlights include human pyramids, bodies flying through the air and a "crash bash" – a daring dive into a circle of fabric inspired by the "Nalukauq," the traditional Inuit game of "Blanket Toss" and the landing mats used by firefighters.

Balancing on Chairs
The equipment is as simple as it gets: eight chairs and a pedestal. But in this act, the artist uses them to create a 23-foot tower; performing a balancing act that displays the human body at the very peak of condition and muscular control.

Young performers work in harmony and unison to bring a new approach to the art of contortionism. What sets this number apart is the artists' innovations in movements and position, their speed, and the way they work as a team to create tableaux of sculptural beauty.

The twin high wires criss-cross diagonally stage left to stage right at 15 and 25 feet above the stage, and the four tightrope walkers add their own tension to the 6,600-pound load on each rope.

Hoops Manipulation
A hoops act with such a high level of difficulty is a rare demonstration of skill and the KOOZA artist is one of the best in the world. Combining fluidity of movement, physical contortion, exceptional balance and impressive dexterity, she spins up to seven hoops simultaneously in her performance.

The Teeterboard flings artists into the air, where they execute quintuple twisting somersaults – and that is just the prelude. Acrobats do the same thing more than 30 feet above the stage with double and single metal stilts strapped to their legs.

Solo Trapeze
The trapeze is installed stage left to stage right – a Cirque-created innovation. The act goes beyond the stage setting and the artist's display of physical mastery. There is drama in the personalities as she interacts with The Trickster, adding dynamic undertones to the visual thrills and delights.

Unicycle Duo
A twist on the classic unicycle number introduces a passenger to the action. The two performers create a pas de deux in constant motion around the stage in a combination of balance, acrobatic control, physical strength, choreographic grace and a spirit of partnership.

Wheel of Death
The 1,600-pound Wheel of Death rotates at heart-stopping speeds, powered only by the two artists who leap and counter-rotate in a death-defying display of acrobatics and teamwork. Like the Highwire, the Wheel of Death is positioned diagonally stage left to stage right, to break with the usual symmetry and bring the action as close as possible to the audience.

Scheduled for various performances through the end of March, "KOOZA" can be seen at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. For performance dates and ticket information, visit our Events Calendar.