Saturday, September 18, 2021

LUZIA Dazzles with Waking Dream of Mexico – Bay Area Artists Splash and Shine in LUZIA

“There was a-splishin’ and a-splashin’

Reelin’ with the feelin’
Movin’ and a-groovin’
Rockin’ and a-rollin’, yeah, yeah”

– Bobby Darin: Greatest Hit

January 1, 2017

By Lina Broydo

Not since Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor performed under the pouring rain in the 1952 Hollywood production of the musical sensation “Singin’ in the Rain” have I seen so much cascading and splashing water which I encountered (and some of you will sitting in the front rows ) but was completely awed by the spellbinding show on the set and the stage of “LUZIA, A Waking Dream of Mexico” a spectacularly breathtaking and magically thrilling new production by Cirque du Soleil’s brilliant and uniquely imaginative team of remarkably creative directors, choreographers, costume designers and the composers of the hypnotic musical interludes which create a tranquil and lovely ambience never overwhelmed by loud sounds. I am sure somewhere in heaven Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds are Singin’ and Dancin’ in the rain of this alluring segment of LUZIA…

Did I mention Fool Koller, the irresistibly phenomenal clown? Or the lanky contortionist Alexei Goloborodko, who does not have a bone in his body? Or Laura Biondo, the energetic virtuoso soccer dancer, who Brandy Chastain, the U.S. gold medalist would have loved to learn a few extra moves? Or Majo Cornejo, the magnificent chanteuse who takes us on the emotionally incandescent music of Mexico? Ahh..

Water, water and more water, as we in California can only dream about, is wrapping, streaming, drenching, soaking, touching and caressing the luminous constellation of national and international performers from the United States, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Israel, France, Poland, the Netherlands, India and Guinea.

As their mesmerizing and fantastic voyage quenches the spirit and ignites their soul, LUZIA welcomes to its amazingly talented cast four Bay Area Hoop Divers and Chinese Pole specialists who shine to the perfection by adding a touch of stratospheric versatility, unrestricted speed and superb artistic interpretation.

Dreams Did Came True for Bay Area Natives: Maya Kesselman, of San Bruno; Marta Henderson of San Francisco; Devin Henderson of San Francisco and Dominic Cruz of Benicia.

Maya Kesselman

Maya started circus arts at 10 years old at the San Francisco Youth Circus and spent most of her high school time off training acrobatics. She left the Bay Area in 2008 to follow her boyfriend of the time, acrobat Devin Henderson, who was going to study at the National Circus of Montreal. She spent a year training with renown coaches and collaborating with Montreal artists before moving to Brussels to study at ESAC (École supérieure des arts du cirque). Since graduating from ESAC in 2011, Maya and her partners have performed with various companies, including Circus Monti, Vague de Cirque and took part in special events and productions with 45 degrees, a division of Cirque du Soleil. Trio Anneaux won the Gold Medal and the Public Choice Award of the prestigious Festival du Cirque de Demain in Paris and the Silver Star and Public Choice Award at the Basel Young Stage Festival. In 2015, Maya and her two partners, along with 4 other Hoop Divers, created their own acrobatic company called Back Pocket. Before they even started training for their first project, the 7 hoop divers got offered to join the creation process of LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil. Maya is happy to take part in this high-quality production and share the stage with her acrobatic partners from ESAC and her childhood friends from the San Francisco Youth Circus.

Marta Henderson

Marta started circus arts at the age of 5 by following the footsteps of her two big brothers who were training with a Chinese coach at the San Francisco Youth Circus. As far as she remembers, Marta grew up training hard and cherishing the dream of becoming a professional circus artist. She left the San Francisco Bay Area at 18 years old with her local acrobatic partner Dominic Cruz to study at the National Circus School of Montreal. In 2014, they successfully graduated as a duo in Hoop Diving and Chinese Pole. Marta and Dominic started their career by performing with Montreal-based company Cirque Eloize, the Midnight Circus and by doing special events with 45 degrees, a division of Cirque du Soleil. In 2015, Marta, along with 5 other hoop divers including Dominic Cruz and her brother Devin Henderson, decided to join forces and create their own circus troupe called Back Pocket. Before they even started training for their first project, the 7 hoop divers got offered to join the creation process of LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil. Marta couldn’t believe it when they received the call from the Cirque du Soleil casting scouts, as they would traditionally hire high-level Chinese performers for Hoop Diving and Chinese Pole acts. She is proud to be bringing with her partners a contemporary touch to the tradition by taking the Hoop Diving discipline onto two gigantic treadmills, allowing the artists to explore a new form of acrobatic vocabulary.

Devin Henderson

Devin started circus arts at 5 years old by following the footsteps of his big brother who was training with a Chinese coach at the San Francisco Youth Circus. As far as he remembers, Devin grew up training hard and cherishing the dream of becoming a professional circus artist. He graduated in 2011 from the College program of the Montreal National Circus School in Hoop Diving and Chinese Pole.

Devin started his professional career by taking part in the creation process and international tour of the production Séquence 8 by the Montreal-based company Les 7 Doigts de la Main (Seven Fingers). He also appeared in the New York experiential production Queen of the Night presented at the Paramount hotel. In 2015, Devin created his own circus troop Back Pocket with other Hoop Diving friends, including his sister Marta who graduated from the Montreal National Circus School in 2014. Before the group even started training for their first project, the 7 hoop divers got offered to join the creation process of LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil. Devin is extremely excited to be presenting the Hoop Diving act of LUZIA as he feels it reinvents the discipline by taking it onto two gigantic treadmills, allowing artists to explore a new form of acrobatic vocabulary.

Dominic Cruz

Dominic started circus arts at the age of 5 by following the footsteps of his two older brothers who are now well-established circus performers. Growing up, he trained acrobatics at the San Francisco Youth Circus with Master Lu Yi, an ex-coach from the Nanjing Circus troupe in China. At the age of 18, Dominic left the San Francisco Bay Area to go study at the National Circus School of Montreal. During his first year of studies, Dominic teamed-up with his childhood friend Marta Henderson to create a duo Hoop Diving act. After graduating from a double major in Hoop Diving and Chinese Pole in 2014, Marta and Dominic started their career by performing with Montreal-based company Cirque Eloize, the Chicago Midnight Circus and by doing special events with 45 degrees, a division of Cirque du Soleil. In 2015, Dominic and Marta, along with 5 other hoop divers, decided to join forces and create their own circus troupe called Back Pocket. Before they even started training for their first project, the 7 hoop divers got offered to join the creation process of LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil. Dominic is excited to be part of LUZIA and learn from the experience of touring with a large-scale production. He is excited to be able to perform his two beloved disciplines and to share a Cirque du Soleil stage with childhood friends from the San Francisco Youth Circus.

In my e-communications with four Bay Area natives I was able to hear about their thrills of joining the world famous Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA production and some additional personal observations.

Q&A with Maya Kesselman

Q: How did you end up in this show? How were you discovered?

A: I was in a hoop diving trio called Trio Anneaux. We were working traveling Europe and we received an email inviting us to participate in a new Ciirque du Soleil creation, LUZIA. We said we came as a group because we were part of our own company called Back Pocket, and they told us to have everyone be included!

Q: How thrilling is it for you to perform in this show?

A: It’s fun to be a part of such a large production. The tour is just getting started so there is so much more left to discover about touring with Cirque du Soleil.

Q: What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to “run away with the circus?”

A: Any young aspiring artist should know that it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to succeed, but if you love what you do then follow through to the end, and it will be worth it.

Q: Were your parents circus performers?  And who are/were your mentors and inspiration?

A: My parents were not circus performers, but they love and support the arts, and are artists themselves. My mom is a painter, and my father a sculptor. My mentors have been my teachers, guiding me to always strive for excellence, and my family, reminding me to love myself and others wholeheartedly.

Q &A with Martha Henderson:

Q: How did you end up in this show? How were you discovered?

A: It was actually my brother Devin Henderson who was contacted for the hoop diving number. We were just about to start our own thing together so when they contacted him he referred them to me as well for hoop diving, and then we both got the job.

Q: How thrilling is it for you to perform in LUZIA show?
A: It’s been really fun to see how a company as big as this one works and all the different jobs that go into it. They take good care of us, the people are lovely, and the extra little perks are pretty fun too 🙂

Q: What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to “run away with the circus?”

A: I guess I would tell them what my coach would tell me, “training is bitter” but it is worth it in the end. So as long as you train hard the success at the end is that much better

Q: Were your parents circus performers?  And who are/were your mentors and inspiration?

A: Neither of my parents were in the circus. My mom is a nurse and my dad is a firefighter. I would say my biggest inspirations were my 3 older siblings. Ive watched them my whole life so everything they did I wanted to do and circus was definitely something we all enjoyed doing together and could bond over. Also my coach from San Francisco Mr. Lu Yi. I wouldn’t have ever gotten this far if it wasn’t for him.

Q &A with Devin Henderson

Q: How did you end up in this show? How were you discovered?

A: I have been performing circus since I can remember and professionally now for 5 years, I was contacted by the casting department at cirque who had knowledge that I was in between jobs and ask me if I wanted to be part of the show. I guess you could say I said “yes.”

Q: How thrilling is it for you to perform in this show?

A: So happy to be able to perform at home. I remember as a little boy going to see the high flying acrobatics and being inspired by each Cirque du Soleil show I had the privilege of watching. It feels cool to be on the other side of that, hopefully inspiring others.

Q: What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to “run away with the circus?”

A: Go for it! It has been the best decision of my life. I followed what I loved doing and to this day it hasn’t let me down. Oh… and stretch!!

Q: Were your parents circus performers?  And who are/were your mentors and inspiration?

A: No, although with 4 kids in the circus, that’s a common misconception. My older brother and the generations above me at the circus center in San Francisco inspired me, and my mentor and teacher master Lu Yi was a gift

Q &A with Dominique Cruz

Q: How did you end up in this show? How were you discovered?

A: I ended up in Luzia through a few friends. I’m part of a company named Back Pocket, comprised of seven hoop divers and acrobats, and when Cirque du Soleil contacted several of our group to participate in LUZIA, all of Back Pocket was suggested and hired.

Q: How thrilling is it for you to perform in this show?

A: It’s an interesting adventure and I’m learning a lot being part of this big of a production

Q: What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to “run away with the circus?”

A: The advice I would give is to believe you can do it. Being a circus artist is hard work, but is also so very rewarding! With enough training anyone can do it!

Q: Were your parents circus performers?  And who are/were your mentors and inspiration?

A: My parents aren’t in the circus, but are very artistic themselves. My mother is a musician, teacher and founder of a youth choir. My father is a dentist, which doesn’t sound artistic, but part of his job is to make smiles beautiful. I think it takes some artistry to make beauty. Both my parents encouraged me and pushed to do what I loved, always motivating me to pursue circus and be happy. My two older brothers are also circus artists and are continuing inspirations in my lif

Cirque du Soleil’s: LUZIA: A Waking Dream of Mexico

* San Francisco performances run through January 29, 2017

Under the Grand Chapiteau, at AT&A Park.

*San Jose performances run from February 9 through March 19, 2017 at Taylor Street Bridge

For information visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/LUZIA/BayArea

For tickets call 800-450-1480.

Ticket prices range from $49 – $310