Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Written by Julie Hamelin Finzi and Daniele Finzi Pasca
Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca
Acrobatic performance designed by Philippe Aubertin
Composed and music directed by Simon Carpentier
Acrobatic choreography by Edesia moreno Barata, Debra Brown, Sylvia Gertrúdix González
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Cirque du Soleil’s scheduling of its Luzia American tour is so poorly-timed that it’s nearly offensive. The producers couldn’t have known, could they? On the one hand, there’s the appreciation of Mexico’s song, dance, and natural resources. On the other, there’s the fact that ICE is indefinitely detaining immigrants as well as asylum seekers near the Mexican border. It’s deporting LEGAL residents across the US. It had been separating families because it could. “But why does light entertainment have to be dragged through politics? It’s just a show!” Because the political is personal, my friends. There are immigrants living in Boston who are at risk of deportation as I type. We, as artists and audience members, can’t forget the fascist actions of the the President because it’s convenient. We must be better.
Out of the dozens of amazingly talented artists picked to perform in this production, only four are Mexican. They are Majo Cornejo (exquisite vocals), Rodrigo de la Mora (musician), Gerardo Ballester Franzoni (puppeteer), and Diana Ham (pole specialist). Joenuel Lebron-Millan (musician) is from Puerto Rico which has power most of the time. While white people do live in Mexico, they aren’t natives. Casting white people because it’s convenient in addition to having them perform approximated cultural ritual is racist.
Don’t blame the artists. A job is a job. The cast and crew of Luzia does theirs superbly. Artist contracts don’t offer inclusivity or equity clauses to account for racist casting. That’s a rich-person-with-bargaining-rights-Hollywood thing. Instead, question the majority white leadership. Contact them with complaints here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like most people who attended Luzia on June 27, I didn’t consider the moral implications behind my tickets. I wanted to see some Olympian-level artists whirl like chimpanzees on meth while feeling insecure about my body – just like everyone else. The average theatre-goer might be able to excuse their ticket purchase as moral support for Mexico during this trying time**, but I can’t. I have a moral obligation to always question my theatre consumption. I did not. I apologize. I will do better.
** Proceeds don’t go to help immigrants, victims of gang violence, or even towards better cultural understanding. No, proceeds go directly to Cirque du Soleil. Their headquarters (and cultural initiatives) are in Canada. Our Latinx neighbors deserve better from us.
Updated to add: Here is an excellent GQ article on civil disobedience. GQ follows in the footsteps of Teen Vogue. When our lifestyle journals are practicing the art of dissent, it should be a warning sign that things are already horrible.