Cirque du Soleil Presents: Kooza

Show’s Extended Stay Leaves Area Residents Still Wanting More

Flying bodies swung through the air from every angle, contortionists effortlessly bent and reshaped their bodies into amazing creations and twins tiptoed across a tightrope 25 feet above the stage as a kaleidoscope of costumes captivated the audience. The circus isn’t coming to town, but Cirque du Soleil has descended upon the area with its jawdropping, heart-racing, mesmerizing production of, KOOZA.

The stellar blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau sits on the hilltop of the Plateau at National Harbor in Forest Heights, Md., and enthralls many passing by.

“D.C. is a special city to Cirque du Soleil, we love coming here,” said Aba Kwawu, founder of The Aba Agency and the local Public Information Officer for Cirque du Soliel.

“David Schiener, of Suitland Md., is a professional clown as well as the creator and director of the show, while Anthony Gatto, who grew up in Maryland, is the number one juggler in the world and he has the medals to prove it,” Kwawu said. “We have ties in this area.”

Unlike regular circus shows that highlight acts with animals, the production of KOOZA took two years to perfect and it displays the skill and profound talent of artists whom were mostly street performers from around the world.

It takes eight days to set up, two days to strike and the performers get a week of rest time between each city’s shows.

“They travel with everything, a kitchen, school, chefs, doctors…it’s like a moving village,” Kwawu said.

While the road show travels with most of their necessities, the production supports the communities they visit, hiring temporary staff and purchasing food locally in every city they visit.

After opening here on Oct. 30, with rave reviews and the unprecedented demand for tickets, Cirque du Soleil announced an additional 18 shows in the D.C.-area.

“The circus is always fun and exciting,” said Nevann Missick of Alexandria, Va.”I was holding my breath with every stunt, it kept me at the edge of my seat.” Yasmine Atkins, of Waldorf, Md., attended the show as a birthday present.

“Walking up to the entrance, all the lights make the big top look like a city on a hill,” Atkins said. “The show was absolutely breathtaking and at times mind boggling, especially during the Wheel of Death.”

KOOZA tells the story of a charming yet innocent and naive clown, Stephan Landry, searching for his place in the world. The trickster, played by Justin Sullivan, leads him on a journey of thrills, laughter, fear and illusion to find himself, as they explore every aspect of the nature of art and marry the old and modern circuses.

“Schiener wanted to create a show that would take the audience away,” Kwawu said. “He wanted to return to the roots of the Cirque du Soleil and showcase the art and skill of clowning.”

Nathan Allen, 30, of Takoma Park Md., said his favorite part of the show was the contortionist act. “Those women are so flexible! Baby, if you could move your body like those ladies I would never leave home,” said Allen jokingly while nudging his girlfriend who obviously got the joke as she burst into laughter.

Cirque du Soleil will close its show curtains in D.C. on Sunday, but tickets are still on sale with prices from $55 to $90 for adults and $38.50 -to $63 for children between the ages of two and 12. The next stop for the KOOZA production is Atlanta.