Cirque du Soleil’s AMALUNA is coming to the Philadelphia area for an engagement of forty mind blowing performances. AMALUNA will premiere on July 24, 2019 under the Big Top adjacent to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, minutes from the King of Prussia Mall. Written and directed by Tony Award-winning director, Diane Paulus, Cirque du Soleil’s 33rd production.
AMALUNA is a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women, and Artistic Director Chris Houston is the mastermind behind this celebration of women. I caught up with Houston to talk about his work with Cirque du Soleil and the amazing organization that it is, how celebrating the female is the backbone of what AMALUNA is all about, and he gave me a sneak peek at some of the amazingness that we will see when AMALUNA premieres next week!
MC: AMALUNA is coming to the Philadelphia area and we could not be more excited! is the crew at AMALUNA as excited to bring this groundbreaking show to the area?
CH: Absolutely! The last time I was in Philadelphia was about ten years ago, I was on tour there with a different show, but I really loved Philadelphia!
MC: AMALUNA is the latest Cirque du Soleil show, and is sure to present the eye opening acrobatics and wondrous storytelling that we are used to. What is different about AMALUNA and what can people expect from this one?
CH: The best way to explain the show is to explain that the actual name of the show is the fusion of two distinct names. “Ama”, & “Luma”. “Ama” is a universal word for mother and “Luma” means the moon; both of those things are extremely present in our show at all times. The show is about relationships between mother and daughter, it is about love, and it is about empowering women.
There are images of the peacock all over the show, which is a reference to the God Juno, which is the protector of women. One thing that this show is known for is that this is Cirque du Soleil’s only all-female band! It is putting women center stage on the world’s stage. It is a first for Cirque du Soleil, and there are so many unique elements that involve showcasing the talent and the real power of women.
MC: What is it like working with an all female band for example, and working on a show like AMALUNA that is truly about the empowerment and strength of women?
CH: It definitely amps it up a little bit. The creator of the show, Diane Paulus, she was very clear that she wanted to be sure that this was as much about representing and empowering women as possible. It is also about balance and I think that what we discovered through the creation of the show, that it is the balancing of the ying and the yang, of the masculine and the feminine. We do have a very strong male presence, but it is there to compliment and to elevate the women. Our acrobatic finale is just that; some of the sailors that wash up on the shores of the mythical island of AMALUNA, they end up elevating the women and living them and swinging them to some really incredible acrobatic heights.
MC: Based on your own history with Cirque du Soleil, how does that tie into this performance and help elevate your own work on AMALUNA?
CH: I was actually a performer with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away as they say (laughs). We are one of the largest producers of entertainers in the world, but we are also our own machine. There is a certain way of doing things, a vocabulary even, which comes out of Quebec. Leaning that alone can be quite a challenge. Having been surrounded by that and growing up with that, it is nice to move into being the Artistic Director now. To have that experience in my back pocket to help me as I navigate the creative and management side of the industry is very helpful.
MC: It definitely must be different coming from the stage and now working on the show on the opposite side as the Artistic Director, isn’t it?
CH: Exactly. I think that it is really what I had always intended to do. These jobs, especially with Cirque, are like the golden unicorn; they only come up once every so often. As soon as the opportunity was there, and what the company is also really great at, is giving the performing artists the tools necessary to transform from the stage. We use educational grants, sponsorships, and cross departmental trainings. The life on stage is a short career; the company is invested in the longevity of the artists and someone like me is the fruits of that pilot program.
Right now, some of the artists on AMALUNA are training to be technicians, riggers, stagehands and sound technicians. If there is something that interests them and they are passionate about, we absolutely encourage that.
MC: It is the age of girl power right now; why do you think the show is more important than ever right now?
CH: The initial meetings for the show took place in 2010 and it eventually came to life in 2012, is is definitely pre- #MeToo movement. When they look back and reflect on AMALUNA, what they will see is that it is kind of visionary and historic. it does place women center stage on the world stage. It recognizes the men that elevate the women; it is all about balance. AMALUNA is part of the caravan that got us there, to the balance that is being fought all around the world. The stage of equality that you see daily in in the media. I think that battle is going be eventually won and AMALUNA is going to be a part of that journey.
There is a large part of the entertainment industry that is political and is cultural. We like to push the envelope just a little bit. I think that is part of being expressive and being part of an expressive country. We do travel the world and are international, and can touch a very profound part of the people that come to see our shows. That is not just AMALUNA, that is company-wide.
MC: What gives you pride?
CH: I think it has to be turning up everyday and being surrounded by this incredible talent. it is the artists. These are people that have gone to the Olympics and have represented their country at the highest level. They are incredible singers and incredible dancers and clowns and band members. We all get together and have this amazing jam session eight times a week all over the world. I think being able to guide that incredible creative energy is what I am most proud of. It is really the artistry that I am proud of.
All Art Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil
For tickets visit: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna