Dan Birlew

Las Vegas Web Developer, Designer, Programmer, and Author

It’s Not Reality, it’s Zumanity

Posted March 26th, 2009 at 11:16am by Dan Birlew in Lifestyle. 2 Comments on It’s Not Reality, it’s Zumanity

Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity is a show full of sexiness and zest. While cabaret in style, Zumanity features the eye-boggling acrobatics and contortionist acts for which Cirque du Soleil is so well known. Though visually stunning, the Bertolt Brecht style theater-in-the-round presentation brings the majority of the show out of the proscenium, so the tableaus and compositions evoked may not be as striking as what you might find in Cirque’s other Vegas shows, like “O” or Ka. While those may be fun to sit back and watch passively, Zumanity seeks to provoke the audience with sensual, acrobatic dances, partial to full nudity, and lots of cabaret humor. This is more “Cirque du Raunch.”

The cast of Zumanity

The cast of Zumanity

A great pre-show sets the tone. Costumed characters walk the aisles, playing with the audience in the orchestra and sofa seating. Meanwhile, a gorgeous post-modern fashion show silently transpires onstage. This “divided-attention, simultaneous action” occurs throughout the show. But thanks to the lighting, the performers are not upstaging each other during the acts.

Marcela de la Vega Luna performs "Wind"

Marcela de la Vega Luna performs "Wind"

Zumanity sort of “warms up” for a while, starting off small but impressively with two highly exotic dances (Marcela de la Vega Luna followed by Wassa Coulibaly). These serve as a kind of “summoning the spirits” right before what may be the most impressive act of the night.

"Waterbowl" is a stunning and sensuous highlight of the evening.

"Waterbowl" is a stunning and sensuous highlight of the evening.

In “Waterbowl,” nude young women (Ulziibayar Chimed, Ariuna Batchuluun & Bolormaa Zorigtkhuyag) swim together in a giant glass basin, swirling and contorting underwater as well as on the rims (as shown). Their sensuous acrobatics truly brings the Cirque experience to the show, bringing the audience to their feet early on, and setting a high bar for the rest of the evening.

Julia Kolosova keeps the action alive and amazing with a hula-hoop act that probably should have been part of China’s Olympic opening. A bit of contrast follows, with a male stripper (Alex Castro) exciting the ladies in the house before two ballet-dancers (Nicolas Besnard and Joanie Leroux-Cote) contort in a series of romantic embraces, sure to bring couples closer together.

Other highlights include a contortionist (Arslan Gusengadzhiev) who makes you want to call an ambulance, and a cage fight between two dudes (Bernard Gaddis, Kevin Gibbs) that is sure to make any hardcore UFC fan blush. The night’s events culminate in spectacular, suspended acrobatic acts followed by an onstage orgy, with cast members pulling audience members into the fray. Our performance featured audience-participator Barbara, the go-getter grandma of the year, who played along with the actors quite aggressively to the greater entertainment of all. Audience participation can make or break a scene like that, so hopefully your fellow attendees are as enthusiastic. If you happen to be pulled onto Zumanity’s stage, take a tip from Barbara and go for it!

Arslan Gusengadzhiev in one of his relatively easier "Dislocation"s

Arslan Gusengadzhiev in one of his relatively easier "Dislocation"s

Overall, Zumanity provides an invigorating night of sexual entertainment for adults 18 and older with open minds. Ladies are sure to be especially pleased. The cast is wonderful, as is the live band. The only critical points that I may offer is for the show to stop using pre-recorded music, and hire more musicians if needed. The live accompaniment is so much more invigorating than the recordings, making even the relatively “low-key” performances more enjoyable (By which I mean on a scale of 1-10, the energy never drops below a 6.) Plus, I doubt Marlene Dietrich or any Paris cabaret club of the ’40s would have been caught dead performing to a tape. I also have problems with the venue, as cabaret usually benefits from a more intimate, “nightclub” setting. The Zumanity Theater is quite large and spread out, with a balcony. While I realize the distance certainly closes during the high-altitude performances, some acts confined to the stage and the comedians could have benefited from greater intimacy. I realize the theater is fully built, has been for years, and the points I make today are more than a little late. But hopefully Cirque du Soleil benefits from my advice in future shows, of which we can be assured.

High-altitude hanging ballets make a great show.

High-altitude hanging ballets make a great show.

Housed at the Zumanity Theater inside the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the show plays in the evenings. For ticket buyers wishing to splurge, I recommend the duo-sofa seating. The sofas looked quite comfy, and are arranged around the base of the stage for the closest view. Many of the audience participators were pulled from these seats as well as the orchestra area, so bear in mind while buying tickets whether you wish to be part of the show.

Tickets:

  • Cabaret Stools: $69
  • Balcony Seats: $69
  • Upper Orchestra Seats: $79
  • Orchestra Seats: $99
  • Duo Sofas: $135 (sold in pairs)

Special thanks to Jessica Berlin and Cirque du Soleil for providing us complimentary tickets to the performance. Thanks also to the Zumanity cast, who graciously met with us prior to the show. They are all truly funny, generous, and wonderful people.

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2 Responses to “It’s Not Reality, it’s Zumanity”

  1. Nice wrap-up, Dan!

    We had a great time there last night, too. The show is a fair bit different than when we saw it last (a few years past). I preferred the updated show better while my wife preferred some portions from the older version. Our seats were QUITE different for both performances, so I’m wondering how much that plays in to each of our preferences.

    • You’re right, seating would play a big part of the experience. We were in the “upper orchestra,” I think, and those seated closer to the stage would have a much better perspective, and probably not feel the “intimacy” issue I mentioned. Thanks, John!