By Elaine Hyde | May 18, 2019
This year, 72 trailer trucks have rolled up to Soldier Field, and set up a tent that can withstand 75 mph winds for Cirque du Soleil’s new production, VOLTA, that runs May 18-July 6. VOLTA refers to a jolt of energy or a sudden change in emotion or idea. The show captures the spirit of adventure that pervades the world of urban street sports and explores themes of freedom and self-acceptance.
It’s the first time in the 30 years, that one of Cirque’s shows has been so close to downtown. Visible from office towers and freeway traffic, beckoning with lights and action, the accessibility and proximity to transportation is a plus, according to Artistic Director, Ron Kellum. “Sometimes because of the traffic and all the things about getting to a show, when it’s accessible it makes everything a little easier,” he said.
A master of making hard things seem easy, Kellum says that the show has acrobatics that have never been seen before under the big top. “BMX, hair suspension, the trampo wall…they’re new acts to the circus culture, to our family. We’re under a tent, so to see these acts perform in a moving reality is unreal.”
The audience is taken on a journey of self discovery through the character of a young man named Waz. “Volta is about finding your free. This is about a young person that goes on a journey, who is trying to escape who they really are, and what they find out is who they really are is uniquely special and makes them even more important to their community and those around them,” Kellum said.
This theme of self-acceptance and freedom from the judgement of others, will particularly resonate with a Chicago audience according to Kellum. “Chicago has always been a city that’s unto its own. There’s a real sense of pride. There’s a real sense of “this is who we are,” he said. The show includes local talent Kevin Beverly, a Chicago native on the shape diving team as well as talent from around the country and the world.
AJ Anaya, a BMX artist from Colorado who performs in the final act, says that the theme of being free is not just in the storyline but extends to the stunts that the artists perform. “It’s basically a big long dance with bikes, as long as we stay with the timing in the air we are able to do any tricks we like.”
On stage there is a lot of real time communication that happens between the BMX artists. It’s a brotherhood pushing the edge of convention, seamlessly working as a team. “What I enjoy most about our act is the freedom. Everyone of us has gone through judgement and acceptance. Once I accepted that this is what I wanted to do for a living, more than anything, some people didn’t take that very seriously as a real job, but I was determined to make it a career and I was grateful I was able to get to that point.
See Cirque do Soleil’s VOLTA under the big top at Soldier Field South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, May 18–July 6, 2019. Tickets start at $49, and can be purchased by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/volta or calling 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).