Cirque du Soleil’s Iris, Los Angeles

For the next ten years if a friend, colleague, or even a stranger on a train mentions they are going to Los Angeles I have a feeling I’m going to give them all the same piece of advice – get tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Iris.

The stunning Cirque du Soleil contortionists in Iris
Picture credit: Cirque du Soleil 

Held in the Kodak Theatre, which most of us know as the home of the Academy Awards, Iris is described as “A Journey through the World of Cinema”, and what better place to go on such a breathtaking journey?

A few weeks ago I had my own Iris adventure. After stepping over stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we entered the theatre and took our places in seats where I couldn’t help but wonder who sat there in the past, and whether they finished the night with a little gold friend.

Cirque du Soleil’s Iris in Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre
Picture credit: Matt Beard, © Cirque du Soleil  

In keeping with Cirque tradition, clowns and characters made their way through the crowd before the action started, and I immediately fell in love with their costumes and wondered how I could possibly recreate one woman’s skirt.

Well, skirt is an understatement… it’s described as a “Praxinoscope skirt” (new word for the day there) and projected moving scenes of boxers when she span it around. Sure, I don’t know how to make it, and I don’t know where I’d wear it, but I want I want I want it.

Picture credit: Cirque du Soleil 

Then the show began. At this point I have a confession to make: I didn’t enjoy the last Cirque du Soleil I saw. In fact, I was so disappointed after seeing Saltimbanco in Sydney’s Acer Arena that when my LA friends Lee and Derek suggested we go to see Iris, I wasn’t that excited.

Thank goodness I decided to just go with their plan, because Iris is absolutely spectacular from start to finish, and is my favourite Cirque show by far.  Mind you I’m no connoisseur, having only fallen in love with Dralion, Quidam and Varekai before my disappointing Saltimbanco experience (which I should also point out I blame on sitting too far back in an arena, rather than enjoying the intimacy of Le Grand Chapiteau).

Shadow play in the Kodak Theatre for Iris
Picture credit: Cirque du Soleil 

But Iris was an absolute delight. It may have been in a theatre rather than under the big top, but the Kodak felt so intimate (it really does look so much bigger on television), that I had that wonderful feeling of being completely swept away by the Cirque world.

Those familiar acts were reimagined into the world of movies and felt new again, and I was rather happy to see two of my favourite Cirque du Soleil artists, Andrew and Kevin Atherton flying from the Kodak ceiling (“The twins!”I exclaimed to Lee and Derek, who not having seen them in one of their 3,034 performances of Varekai wondered how I knew who they were from afar.)

The twins! Andrew and Kevin Atherton performing Cirque du Soleil’s Iris
Picture credit: Matt Beard © Cirque du Soleil 

The boys and I went through the usual squirming and breath-holding as we watched the artists contort and fling each other around in ways that make you wonder if we’re really the same species. I also found myself pondering what it must feel like for them to be in those positions…. agony? A mild stretch? Somewhere in between?

Contortionists Cirque du Soleil style
Picture credit: Matt Beard, © Cirque du Soleil 
Now to share this next bit, I need to out myself as someone who doesn’t enjoy clowns. I don’t hide under the bed in horror at the sight of one, but I rarely, if ever, find them amusing. So I was very happy to find that for the first time, I really enjoyed the clown section of a Cirque show. 
Perhaps it was the fact that they were playing with the whole movie theme of the show with an awards ceremony of their own. What fun to actually laugh out loud at a clown for once! And to also have our attention brought back to the fact that we were sitting in the same theatre where so many movie dreams have come true. 
The Kodak Theatre transformed into Cirque’s Movie Set
Picture credit: Matt Beard, © Cirque du Soleil 
My slight obsession with the theatre we were in continued in the second half of the show, where they revealed the full depth of the stage. In between the sensory overload of acrobatics and clowns dashing around, I managed to take in the exposed ropes and pulleys of the Kodak theatre, again thinking how small the theatre is, and how much it manages to achieve on that big night every year. 
Breathtaking balancing act at Iris
Picture credit: Matt Beard, © Cirque du Soleil  

So yes, it’s clear that I had an absolute ball and will be telling everyone they simply have to go and see Iris. But some of you may be wondering why I started by saying I’ll be telling people this Los Angeles travel tip for the next ten years.

Well, that’s how long Cirque du Soleil will be doing this show in this theatre. Apart from that time of the year where they’ll bump out for a little while to allow the Academy Awards to take the stage.

Considering the show cost $100 million, the ten year run sounds like a pretty good idea. But I was pleasantly surprised to find ticket prices weren’t as expensive as I expected.

Fly my pretty… trampoline tricks at Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit: Mark DeLong © Cirque du Soleil 

Sure, there are VIP tickets available for $253, but we paid $78 and got great seats in the stalls at the front of the second tier, with a clear view of the stage.

Tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Iris start from $43 (well, they do now in 2012, who knows what they’ll be in a decade!) and are available through their website.

Movie set mayhem with trampolines at Iris
Picture credit: Matt Beard © Cirque du Soleil 

So what about you? What’s your latest “must do” tip for a friend heading to Los Angeles? And for those who love their Cirques, what’s the best one you’ve seen so far?

Fabulous costumes drawing from movie magic at Cirque du Soleil’s Iris
Picture credit: Mark DeLong © Cirque du Soleil  

All photos used in this story are courtesy of Cirque du Soleil, in keeping with their “no photos during the performance” rules. Please do resist the temptation to take your own photos during the show… yes, it’s oh so tempting, but it’s also dangerous for those amazing performers. So cameras away… and enjoy the show. 

Love Cirque du Soleil? You may also want to check out my blog on Cavalia 

About the Author

As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I'm oh so happy when I'm sharing travel tales and tips through my blog and on my weekly travel segment on Sydney Radio 2UE. When I'm not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I'll stop after one more episode. Amanda on Google +

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  1. I was able to see Cirque du Soleil Ka in Vegas and it was great! This one looks just as good 🙂

    • I must put Ka on my own bucket list… it’s been far too long since I’ve been to Vegas and the chance to see another top Cirque show could be a very good excuse!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Awesome show!!!! A MUST SEE!!!

  3. What an awesome experience!!! I saw a similar show while in Macau. Took my breath away!

    • Don’t you just love how incredible some people are? I’m sure the show in Macau was one to remember as well. Something else to put on my list!

  4. Ooh I hadn’t heard of Iris but I’ve really liked most of the CdS shows I’ve seen although some have been a bit disappointing. good to know that Iris is worth it! 😀

    • Absolutely! Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the boys suggesting it and me thinking I’d go along for the ride, I would have missed it. So glad that’s not the case. I’ll definitely go back and see it again next time I’m in LA.

  5. I love Cirque du Soleil! I’ve never been to see the show live, but I’ve caught it on TV before.

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