Cirque du Soleil unveils a new show in their ever expanding lineup. Over the years there have been a few that have missed the mark and have not resonated with audiences and Volta is one where critics are of differing opinions. I have not yet seen the show so I can’t offer my review, but I can say that even when I feel a cirque show may have missed the mark, I am always glad I went and always look forward to what’s coming next.
It’s hard to keep this genre fresh with new acts or re-interpretations of old ones to keep the audience engaged. I mean, we’ve almost seen it all. That’s what excites me about Volta. It’s not a combination we’ve seen before. And though the plot line seems a little far removed for me, it deals with a gameshow host who has lost touch with his inner self in the pursuit of fame, the acts I’ve seen look incredible and challenge the human imagination, and body.
The show makes its way to the Toronto Port Lands starting September 7th. Tickets are on sale now at www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta.
Why Volta? The name VOLTA refers to a sudden about-face, a change in emotion or idea. It also speaks to the jolt of energy, something the show wants its audience to experience as they watch.
The them behind VOLTA is that of freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves acrobatics into a visually striking world driven by a stirring melodic score. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and the power of the group to make that possible. It celebrates freedom as a movement.
The show features a few Canadian performers as well and we were lucky enough to speak to Joey Arrigo of Toronto who plays the main role of Waz, the lost gameshow host. He was, also, part of Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA as “the trickster” for 3 years.
Joey was on faculty with JUMP Dance Convention as the jazz teacher and was 1 of the 14 members of Shaping Sound Dance Company’s first national tour in 2013. He was one of Canada’s Top 20 dancers on CTV’s “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” and was a choreographer’s assistant to Mia Michaels on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, seasons 1, 2, and 3.
TheSceneInTo: Why the departure from the previous fantasy filled Cirques to more that’s more based in today’s surrounding? Is there a stronger cultural feeling your’e looking evoke?
Arrigo: I believe it was extremely important for Cirque du Soleil to depart from the previous fantasy filled shows simply because it has already been done. Cirque fans have seen and enjoyed our shows over the past 33 years and there are only so many magically, fantasy worlds we can take them to. Volta, being produced in 2017, was an opportunity for Cirque du Soleil to try something different, not only to refresh the minds of dedicated Cirque fans, but to also spark the interest of the younger generation. Adding extreme sports, a theatrical, thought provoking story line for the audience to follow and new fresh acts was definitely an artistic risk for the company.
Nevertheless, it was a risk that has definitely worked out for Cirque du Soleil. For this company to maintain the largest and most successful entertainment company in the world in the future, we must begin to create shows that are based on current trends and subject matter that will keep our millennial audience members coming back to cirque for the rest of their lives.
TheSceneInTo: What’s the inspiration behind this show? It seems very personal. Is there a larger message the audience should walk away with?
Arrigo: The inspiration of Volta definitely comes from a very personal place. Volta was written and directed by Bastien Alexandre and with Jean Guibert as the director of creation. I spent a great deal of time exploring how to bring the character of “Waz” alive based off of who was created to be. What i was able to take away from Bastien and Jean was there personal experiences in life about conforming to social normalcy and finding their own way in the world we live in today. When we are bombarded by constant influences from social networks and media, it takes the strength from inside ourselves to step away from that and accept ourselves for who we truly are and to finally find our “Freespirit”. This is the message we want the audience members of Volta to take away with them. Everyone can relate to this message one way or another and can hopefully begin their own journey, just like “Waz” to free their spirit. Listening to Bastien and Jean’s visions over the 7 months of creation was an extremely valuable process that I am happy to be able to take into the future of this show.
TheSceneInTo: Some reviews have suggested the story line is not as significant as previous Cirques. Do you feel it’s being missed in the “simplicity” of the show’s structure? This show though full of excitement is more subdued in its messaging and character depiction.
Arrigo: When it comes to Volta’s story line, the intention was not to boggle the minds of our viewers into thinking there were secrets that needed to be discovered in the plot of the story. We wanted to finally send out a clear cut message of self-acceptance, a message to inspire people and to walk away from our show with an uplifted feeling. I can understand why some would feel as though the character depiction is “subdued”. However, when we are displaying characters who are, not only human, but relevant in 2017, what more needs to be explained?
TheSceneInTo: Is there a pressure to create a constant new experience with the traveling shows? Vegas shows like Mystere have endured for years. Considering the creativity of the producers and founders, is this pressure an internal one to always go further, create more, and explore more?
Arrigo: The Las Vegas resident shows, such as “Mystere”, also go through a number of creative changes year to year to keep the energy of the show fresh while honouring the image of the show from the creation. In doing so, an audience member could return to see “Mystere” years later than the first time they saw it and see differences in the show to maintain its high level. When considering Volta, as a brand new creation, we are exploring draft one of many in the future of this show. The more we explore the show, we will continue to build a stronger Volta for years to come.
TheSceneInTo: What’s your favourite part of the show?
Arrigo: My personal favourite part of Volta is a short but extremely important part of the show. It is the transition between the scene entitled “Hall of Equals” and Waz’s Breakthrough dance performance. Ela, the leader of the Free-spirits, who leads Waz on his journey to being a freespirit, rewards Waz in an intimate moment with orange paint marking on his face. Waz, then returns the scarf given to him by Ela as a significances that he no longer needs the scarf to feel free. He has found freedom and self-acceptance within himself.