Corteo Features an Elegant Victorian Vibe with All the Dazzling Acrobatics You Have Come to Expect from Cirque du Soleil

Corteo Features an Elegant Victorian Vibe with All the Dazzling Acrobatics You Have Come to Expect from Cirque du Soleil

at Eagle Bank Arena
Jordan Wright
May 18, 2024
Special to The Zebra

(Photo/Maja Prgomet)

I’ve been covering Cirque du Soleil for twelve years when they first came to the DC Metropolitan area with Amaluna at National Harbor. Since then, all their productions have been in a massive tent in Tysons II. Last night they brought Corteo to the Eagle Bank Arena at George Mason University.  Instead of their iconic basketball games , the arena was constructed to fit a theatre-in-the-round that utilized around half of the 10,000 seat arena which was filled to capacity.

Corteo which means cortege in Italian is a joyful procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The costumes and set design are of the Art Nouveau period and as such are quite charming and elegant. Quite different from the more recent productions which are enormous and with all the activities onstage, the innumerable spotlights and large ensemble can often be confusing and distracting. It opens with the central character of the hapless clown getting his wings from an angel who teaches him how to fly heavenward. Beautiful angels two-stories high factor a great deal in the entire production. The spoken words are partly in English, partly in Italian and partly in French with the foreign languages using a vocabulary easy to understand.

(Photo/Maja Prgomet)

The clown pictures his funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by angels. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic, the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show focusses on the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness.

The show combines the actor’s passion with the acrobat’s grace and power to plunge the audience into a fantasy world of silliness and spontaneity in a mysterious space between heaven and hell. It harkens back to the olden days of circuses and pantomimes, hilarious sketches and extraordinary feats of daring.

Pillow fights on trampolines disguised as brass beds evoke the period as does the music of the era with the accordion being prominent and an oompah band visible towards the rear of the stage and musicians and singers in globe-lit boxes on either side of the stage.

(Photo/Maja Prgomet)

There are crazy-funny comedy sketches – one of two Scotsmen golfers in their plus fours hitting a ‘live ball’ whose head pops up from beneath the stage while teasing the duffers who thankfully never manage to hit the ‘ball’. Many of the characters sport satin Pierrot harlequin costumes or big bloomers echoing the period. The Maestro in red satin cutaway jacket and black top hat whistles Mozart. In one juggling scene dozens of rubber chicken fall from the rafters, in another, gypsies compete in a daredevil parallel bars competition. There are countless scenes of stunning beauty and extraordinary athleticism – one such features a tiny lady appearing to be in a snow globe. Jugglers and aerialists feature prominently with all acts backed by a beautifully melodic musical score. I was particularly drawn to two small performers enacting Romeo and Juliet in a Punch and Judy routine within a scaled down Teatro Intimo. A bicycle-riding highwire act and gorgeous lady acrobats on chandeliers had us gasping.

The creativity in all of Cirque’s shows is boundless, although I found that, though smaller in scale to what we have been accustomed to with Cirque in the Grand Chapiteau, Corteo was more intimate and elegant, and just as mind-blowing as any of the dozen or so productions I had seen in the past.

(Photo/Maja Prgomet)

Corteo is as beautiful as it is thrilling and endearing at the same time. With set curtains inspired by the Eiffel Tower and gorgeous hand-painted central curtains, the ambiance is one of immersive time travel.

Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, this one will forever be one of my all-time favorites.

Highly recommended!!!

At the Eagle Bank Arena, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax, VA 22030

Performance Schedule – May 17th at 7pm, May 18th at 3pm and 7pm, May 19th at 1pm, and May 25th at 3pm and 7pm. Tickets at

Volta ~ Cirque du Soleil

Jordan Wright
July 28, 2019 

When Cirque du Soleil comes to town the excitement level soars as high as the big top that holds the exhilarating spectacle.  Just watching the white tents go up in Tysons Corner II foretells of acrobats and contortionists with feats of extreme agility, grace and power.  Volta tells the story of WAZ, an unusual blue-hued, feather-haired boy who seeks his place in the world.  His journey of self-discovery and ultimate transformation is backgrounded by video projections of his youth, a fondly remembered red bicycle, and dreams of his mother on their rural farm.

Mr Wow3 ~ Credit Matt Beard Costumes Zaldy

Guided by the roller-skating urchin, Ela, WAZ soon finds friends who live life to the fullest in an urban landscape fueled by street sports. When they encourage him to participate in their activities, he discovers all the adventures and fun a boy can have. Riding flatland tricks on BMX bicycles at high speed on ramps, tumbling through ever-higher hoops, skipping ropes double-dutch at warp speed and flying through the air on trapeze and high wire. Another thriller is the three-story tumbling competition on the ‘trampowall’.  In between the extraordinary feats on ladders, BMX and unicycle, there’s plenty of humor for children and adults, in particular a wonderfully silly scene portrayed in pantomime of a fraught day at the beach.  One of the most talked about feats may be Brazilian acrobat, Vanesa Ferreira Calado’s performance of hair suspension.  Yes, she flies through the air with the greatest of ease – held on solely by her hair!

VOLTA Mr Wow 011 Photo credit BenoitZ.Lero…customes Zaldy

The show is three hours of fascinating, ever-electrifying wow with moments of sweetness and visual storytelling set to an original score by Anthony Gonzalez, of the French electronic music project M83.  As described by the company, “Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance and liberation from the judgement of others.” In other words, let your freak flag fly high!

Unicycle ~ Credit Matt Beard ~ Costumes Zaldy

Costumes by Emmy Award designer Zaldy Goco, famed for his work with Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani and RuPaul’s Drag Racerange from the subtle streetwear to candy-colored, rainbow-hued leotards for the acrobats, shiny golden capes, fur for Mr. WOW and delicate chiffons for the ballet dancer and electric violin player.

For those of us trying to remember when Cirque first came to town, their first local production was in 1988 with Cirque Réinventé.  The brand new Volta is the 21stproduction to visit the DC Metro area.

Through September 29that the Lerner Town Center at Tysons II, VA.  For tickets and information visit  or call 1-877-924-7783.

Luzia ~ A Waking Dream of Mexico ~ Cirque du Soleil

Jordan Wright
April 13, 2018 

In an edge-of-your-seat extravaganza that excels in spine-tingling, jaw-dropping acrobatics, Cirque du Soleil brings Luzia to Tysons Corner.  It’s not just my opinion, but comments from attendees who say they thought it was the best Cirque show they had ever seen.  Credit their policy for listening to audience feedback and regularly tweaking their shows to elicit the maximum reaction.  Artistic Director Grace Valdez, a Virginia native and graduate of George Mason University, has created a spectacular fantasy world to both thrill and inspire.

Spoken and sung entirely in Spanish, Luzia (a mashup of luz meaning light and lluvia meaning water) affords the artists a mellifluous, often romantic, dynamic in the slower numbers and an intense, Mach 10 immediacy in the daredevil performances.  Elements of Mexican culture are everywhere, from the opening number featuring a circular garden of bright orange marigolds, mariachis and tiny robots who water the flowers, to the larger than life Mexican creatures – armadillo, jaguar, crocodile, horse, iguana, fish and giant mariposa (butterfly) – that dance to the sounds of classical and pop as well as salsa, bolero and traditional Mexican ballads.  It is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.

One of the most eye-popping features is a waterfall, cascading 50 feet from the very top of the tent.  Artists performing within the splash zone offer an added dimension of excitement as drops of water reflect the light and patterns are projected along the length of the column of water.

Eric, the ‘emcee’ is a comic figure, constantly thirsty and thwarted by the waterfall which shuts down whenever he tries to fill his cup.  All over the arena, amid the sounds of the organ grinder and the mariachis, you could hear the squeals of laughter and delight from the littlest ones – as contagious as the gasps at the physically precarious leaps, feats of tumbling, pole dancing and stupefying gymnastics from the acrobats (Benjamin on the aerial straps is a marvel! Did I mention he’s hot as a jalapeño?) as well as a lightning-quick juggler, the most accomplished I’ve ever beheld.

Photo credit: Jordan Wright

As birds and butterflies flutter abound, the feats of derring-do are too many to mention each one, but this reviewer was most captivated by contortionist, Aleksei Goloborodko, who twists his hyper-flexible body into knots so intricate even a sailor wouldn’t know how to undo him.  I was literally gape-mouthed, fanning myself with amazement at his elasticity.  Another act by five pretty, soaking wet girls in Mexican dresses is performed within the confines of ‘cyr wheels’, a sort of life-size hula hoop, and involves 360-degree spinning, often upside down.

Highly recommended. This fiesta is a true joy for young and old alike.  Don’t miss it!

Through June 17th under the white-and-gold Big Top at Tysons II, 8025 Galleria Drive. Tysons, VA 22102.  Tickets online at