Now through August 19th, Philadelphia families have the wonderful opportunity of catching Cirque du Soleil’s energetic, imaginative new show “VOLTA” at an outdoor Big Top that seats up to 2,500 people outside of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA.
According to a press statement, “VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and recognizing one’s own power to make it possible.”
That’s a great theme to bring to young people, especially tweens and teens who are in the process of forming their personal identities and can feel pressure about being true to oneself versus fitting in with a group. Kids will easily relate to one of the main characters, Waz, whose blue hair makes him feel different and struggle to fit in the world around him.
In its characteristic style, Cirque du Soleil has created a visually breathtaking, energetic show that is especially relatable to young people with its use of jump roping, acrobatics through play structures, gravity-defying trampoline tricks and its debut of BMX bike riders who perform astonishing tricks right on a moving stage.
Cirque du Soleil uses very little dialogue and instead relies on lights, music (in Volta, it’s electronic created by M83’s Anthony Gonzalez), dance, acrobatics and clowning to communicate its story. If this is your first time introducing your kids to this more abstract, imaginative kind of performance, use the conversation starters below to help them process their experience of the show:
- Feeling Different: The character of Waz has blue hair—and none of the other characters do. What is special about Waz being different? How does he feel about his blue hair? What do the movies of Waz as a child tell us about what his childhood was like? Why is it important for him to fit in and be like everyone else? What does he learn during the show? What is unique and special about you? Do you ever feel pressured to be like everyone else?
- Practice: The performers in Cirque du Soleil are extraordinarily talented—and also learned their unique skills through a life dedicated to practicing their art. Most of us don’t practice the activities that we enjoy in the way that professional athletes, dancers or artists do—but we can still learn from them. What goals do you have about your activities (playing an instrument, sports, dance, etc.)? What do you think would help you feel motivated to practice?
- People, Not Animals: One of the first things that has set Cirque du Soleil apart since its inception in 1984 is that it is an animal-free circus that relies on the incredible acts of human performers to entertain its audiences. What was your favorite performance in the show? What were some of the amazing things you’ll never forget? Did you miss seeing animals in the circus? Many important organizations like The Humane Society speak out about animal cruelty issues related to animals in the circus. You can use this list of myths about circus animals to talk to your kids about this issue.
- Imagination: Unlike a traditional play that relies on words that actors say, Cirque du Soleil tells a story through many different art forms including lights, choreography and in the case of Volta, BMX bikes and more. What do you think the VOLTA story was about? What part of it captured your imagination? If you could design a circus show, what would it be about? Encourage your kids to sketch their favorite memories of the show or design their own Big Top.
- Joining the Circus: Have you ever wanted to try circus arts? Which part of the Cirque du Soleil would you want to try? Right here in Philadelphia we have an amazing school—The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. After seeing VOLTA, you may want to take your child to try a class and experience firsthand how you learn fly in the air and so more amazing gravity-defying acts.
Please note: for families raising children with autism or who have sensory-sensitivities, this show may be overwhelming in terms of the sound, visuals and closeness of the performers to the crowd. The performance also contains strobe lights.