Fire knife dance peformers in Cirque du Soleil’s show “Alegría” playing in Redmond, Wash. Credit: Matt Beard
If you’ve never experienced a Cirque du Soleil show, you may not know that while cirque is the French word for “circus,” it’s far from a typical circus. You won’t see animal acts or three rings. Cirque du Soleil is known for its artistic shows featuring live music, beautiful sets and aerialist acts that are both unusual and awe-inspiring.
Cirque du Soleil’s show called “Alegría,” now playing at Marymoor Park in Redmond, is a classic Cirque show that has been reworked for modern times. It offers families a couple of hours of wonder and escape under the Big Top (with the purchase of some pretty pricey tickets). “Alegría” is appropriate for all ages and runs through March 13.
Alegría, which means “joy” or “jubilation” in Spanish, offers many themes. The show features a King’s Fool, minstrels, aristocrats, beggars and children. As the show progresses, power changes hands from the king to the people, monarchy to democracy.
Although I didn’t fully follow the story line (you don’t need to), the show is indeed jubilant and full of joy. The main narrative thread running throughout the show is the story of two clowns and their relationship. The clowns are really wonderful, provoking laughter one minute and heartwarming emotion in the next. Two powerful singers representing light and shadow provide the soundtrack along with live musicians.
As always, this Cirque show features acrobatic performers who defy gravity. One act we hadn’t ever seen before (in many Cirque shows) features performers using pole vaulting sticks, climbing and tumbling from the tops of the tall poles. It’s called Acro Poles. Another new-to-us act was a hand-to-hand act in which one performer flings another performer into the air and even balances her on her arm.
Other jaw-dropping acts included a swing trapeze duo, the German wheel, a contortionist doing seemingly impossible things with hula hoops, trampoline stunts, aerial straps and a fire knife dance.
The fire dance was one of our favorites and featured twirling batons lit on fire as the stage revolved. Eventually the stage lit up and enclosed the performers in a ring of fire. The main dancer ate fire and lit his hands and feet on fire, all while twirling and wearing an infectious grin. This was followed by a huge snowstorm made of white tissue paper squares blowing onto the stage and even into the audience.
The grand finale was a beautiful flying trapeze act made all the more exciting because the net was partially stretched over the audience. The performers flew right over our heads.
I attended the show with my 18-year-old daughter (pictured below at a photo op at the show). She is currently training in flying trapeze and other aerialist disciplines. Several of her coaches also attended the performance and the consensus was that it was “the best of the best in aerial arts and acrobatics.” That being said, you don’t have to have a deep understanding of what these athletes do to enjoy this wonderful show.
Parents should know
- The show runs for about two hours and 15 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.
- This particular Cirque show has no slow parts and with the way performers engage the audience — think clowns and musicians running up and down the aisles, and the snowstorm — kids as young as elementary age would enjoy this show. (The website indicates it is appropriate for all ages.)
- The show's run time and 8 p.m. start (for evening shows) will be determining factors for most families. Weekend matinees likely best suit families with younger kids.
- Snacks and drinks are available for purchase inside the Big Top, but they are expensive.
- Although the Big Top is a comfortable temperature inside, it is a long, sometimes muddy walk to the venue from the parking lot, plus the bathrooms are located outside. Be sure to dress appropriately for winter weather.
- Allow plenty of time to get in. The lines to pay for parking were long, and ticket holders go through metal detection (with a wand) and a bag-check process that is not quick.
- You will be asked to show a vaccine card or a negative Covid test to enter. Masks are required.
- Booster seats were available at entrances to the seating area.
If you go...
When: “Alegría” plays through March 13, with shows generally Tuesday–Sunday. Weekends offer earlier show times, likely better for families.
Where: Under the Big Top at King County’s Marymoor Park at 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway N.E. in Redmond.
Tickets: Prices start at $44 and go up to $320. Book online. Kids’ tickets for ages 2–12 are slightly discounted. (Tip: Groupon sometimes has deals.)
Parking: There is plenty of parking but it costs $25. There were two lines: one taking cash and the other taking cards. You could consider arriving by Uber or Lyft, but you’d likely have to walk quite a ways.