Cirque Du Soleil celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, prancing into 2015 with the premiere of KOOZA – held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Tuesday, January 6.

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Highwire had most audience members on edge.

KOOZA derives from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘magical box’ and unleashes a vibrant display of white knuckle acrobatics creatively combined with colourful circus theatrics.

The Royal Albert Hall is a prestigious venue situated in South Kensington, where guests are more than likely to rub shoulders with (celeb) royalty. Cirque Du Soleil is renowned worldwide for its eccentric style, with KOOZA seeing the troupe’s return to London following a successful sold-out season in 2013. KOOZA has been written and directed by David Shiner, who began his ‘clowning’ career as a street mime in Paris – which accounts for the production’s classical comedic charm.

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Contortion.

Each ‘clowning’ act was almost reminiscent of my annual childhood visits to Zippos Circus, with audience members immersed in intricate costume designs accredited to Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt. Ringside is the ideal position to observe acts above, though views were often restricted on ground level with various acrobats occupying the wings. There was always something to keep audience members entertained as 15 minutes prior to the performance, a loud ‘tourist’ began lobbing popcorn whilst a cop chased a crook.

KOOZA featured a somewhat lighthearted introduction before the interval, with live music complimenting the instrumental ambience on stage. An interchangeable hydraulic platform – almost like a palace – was shrouded in sheer curtains that soaked up the light. The cylindrical platform housed six musicians playing a variety of orchestral instruments, accompanied by two live singers who added to the overall multicultural vibe. KOOZA is intentionally left open for interpretation, with segmented acts contributing to an overall sentimental/melancholic narrative. KOOZA is almost childlike in exploring both psychological and philosophical themes through ‘The Innocent.’

Effective strobe and flash lighting erupted on the highly interactive stage and I was amazed at how well the aged structure supported the hefty props. Most shocking were the more physical tasking acts such as Contortion, where a trio of women boxed over one another like stacked chairs. Balancing on Chairs also evoked a couple of gasps from the audience as a muscular male straddled the 23-foot tower supported by a pedestal. High Wire, Solo Trapeze and the aptly named Wheel of Death added suspense, with The Teeterboard prevailing as acrobats balancing on single and double metal stilts launched themselves high into the air.

KOOZA is scheduled to run at the Royal Albert Hall until February 19, 2015. For more information about Cirque du Soleil visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.

Discounted rates are available for groups of 12+ 20+ and 50+ To book call 00800 1548 000 or email groupsales@cirquedusoleil.com. For more information visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/groups