The Cirque du Soleil brand has come to be equated with breathtaking theatricality like no other, incorporating acrobatics, aerialism, dance, costume and high production value into everything they do. Though they are known for their Las Vegas spectacles, they also do touring shows, which present more challenges than those held in the same venue night after night. One of their most popular touring extravaganzas, Sép7imo Día — No Descansaré (Seventh Day — I Will Not Rest), takes over the L.A. Forum this weekend, and rather than be inhibited by the arena, the show seems inspired by it.
One reason the show may fit so well in the famed concert and sports arena is that it's music-driven. And though the average American music fan may not know the band that inspired this show, millions do. Argentine rockers Soda Stereo are one of the most beloved and influential Latin American bands of all time, and their success in the '80s and '90s helped Latin rock transcend their native country; they became a true sensation all over Latin America, and with North-American Spanish-speaking fans as well. At Thursday, May 3's opening performance in Inglewood, fans sang along to every song, as Cirque’s colorfully garbed performers flipped, dipped, danced and flew through the air.
I didn't know Soda Stereo’s music before the show and was able to understand only about half of the lyrics (I’m Mexican and Ecuadorian but, like many born in Los Angeles of Latin decent, I didn't hear Spanish spoken much in my home growing up). This meant Cirque's interpretations of Soda Stereo’s music didn’t resonate with me the way The Beatles’ Love did; as a huge Beatles fan, I loved Love so much I’ve seen it twice, and would see it again. Cirque's other music artist–inspired shows celebrating the works of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley have been equally praised, and that is surely in large part due to the incredible material in each artist’s repertoire.
Soda Stereo are a trio: singer-instrumentalist Gustavo Cerati (now deceased), bassist Zeta Bosio and drummer Charly Alberti. Their music is extremely catchy and dramatic at times, in a U2 sort of way, but it also brings to mind '80s new wave and alternative bands from the U.K., such as Depeche Mode and later-era Duran Duran. Since they are of the same era, fans at the Forum last night (who were mostly Latin and 40-plus) obviously had the same connection to Soda Stereo that I do to Depeche, et al., which made me wonder how I’d react if Cirque interpreted the music of the Mode or The Cure in the same way. Answer: I’d freak out! (And hopefully someone from Cirque du Soleil is reading this because I think I just gave them a great idea.)
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There's enough vibrant visual stimulation that you really don’t need to be familiar with the songs to enjoy Sép7imo Día — No Descansaré. Giant structures (a birdcage and a flowerlike contraption) that move around and utilize the floor of the Forum, an intergalactic planetary stage backdrop, different types of trapeze (including a romantic swing for two), and my favorite portion, an astounding jump-rope dance that’ll make you think your eyes are deceiving you, are all sort of surreal and fun to absorb. This production is designed to excite and arouse in the traditional Cirque sense, but the emphasis on the music and, even more, the cultural illumination it provides, makes it special.
The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. May 4-6, 8 p.m. Tickets and more info at cirquedusoleil.com/sep7imo-dia.