Logo for Cirque du Soleil's Zaia
|Company||Cirque du Soleil|
|Show type||Resident show|
|Date of premiere||August 28, 2008|
|Final show||February 19, 2012|
|Location||The Venetian Macao, Cotai Strip, Macau|
|Creation director||Neilson Vignola|
|Writer and director||Gilles Maheu|
|Set and props designer, theater concept||Guillaume Lord|
|Costume designer||Dominique Lemieux|
|Composer and musical director||Violaine Corradi|
|Acrobatic choreographer||Jeff Hall|
|Acrobatic performance designer||Rob Bollinger|
|Artistic equipment and rigging designer||Guy Lemire|
|Lighting designer||Alex Morgenthaler|
|Sound designer||Steven Dubuc|
|Makeup designer||Nathalie Gagné|
|Clown acts designer||Leonid Leykin|
|Preceded by||Wintuk (2007)|
|Succeeded by||Zed (2008)|
Zaia was a Cirque du Soleil stage production based at The Venetian Macao on the Cotai Strip in Macau. The 90-minute show opened in August 2008, bringing together 75 high-calibre artists from around the world. Zaia was Cirque du Soleil's first resident show in Asia and is directed by Neilson Vignola and Gilles Maheu. The custom-built theater housing the performance was capable of seating 1,800 spectators at a time.
Zaia presented a young girl's dream of journeying into space, discovering worlds populated by a panoply of otherworldly creatures. The title, Zaia, came from a Greek name meaning "life".
Due to multiple factors, and more specifically, to the global financial crisis that hit the world at the end of 2008 and lead to low audience numbers, the show had to close on 19 February 2012. Despite its closing, Venetian Macao resort owner Las Vegas Sands Corp. claimed, "Using Las Vegas as a benchmark, Zaia’s 3 1/2-year run should be deemed successful and provide strong support for the argument that the future of entertainment in Macau is on the right track."
Zaia opened in 2008 and had a rough start due to the worldwide financial crisis that lead to low audience turnouts. With the addition of new Chinese-style elements such as a lion dance performance and a flying dragon, increased ticket sales were reported. Despite the improved box office sales, the show was still recording losses in 2011, Sands China president Edward Tracy revealed on 18 November 2011. The Venetian Macau show remained "the only business sector that doesn’t make a profit," he added. Criticism from Sands China chairman Sheldon Adelson led to rumours that the 10-year contract of Zaia would be terminated earlier. But Edward Tracy rejected this possibility. "We are prepared to take a loss to provide that kind of entertainment," he stressed. On 7 February 2012, Sands China and Cirque du Soleil announced that Zaia would close on 19 February 2012.
Some of Zaia's creatures and characters are listed below.
- Zaia: She is the main character; her journey is the show's premise.
- Romeo: He falls for Zaia and in the end performs a straps duet.
- Adam and Eve
- Artistos: They perform in the aerial number.
- Weathervanes: This group of characters performs in the Chinese poles on globes number and represent the directions on the compass.
- Sage: As the keeper of knowledge, the Sage watches over Zaia.
- Choreography I - Cityscape: A high pace dance act set on a group of high rise buildings, each performer used different dancing techniques from around the world.
- Aerial bamboo: Zaia's parents dangled on a long bamboo branch, the father clung to the top of the branch while the mother dangled onto the father using wires that connected each other's teeth, or she clasped onto his arms or legs.
- Skating: A couple performed a high paced dance while continuously circling with roller skates at a high speed on a raised platform.
- Lion dance: An acrobatic take on the lion dance, the lions walked on a see saw, balanced on globes and they even balanced on each other.
- Choreography II - Dance of the automatons: Another fast paced dance, each dancer performed as if they were a robot, or a toy.
- Juggling: A group of jugglers tossed clubs, balls and rings to each other.
- Flying Trapeze: A group of artists swung from one trapeze to another artist who was at another swinging trapeze, they performed flips in between the jump to the hands of the performer.
- Hand to hand: A man and woman representing Adam and Eve used mighty strength to create multiple lithe figures.
- Hand-balancing: An understudy act for hand to hand, it saw a male performer balance on high handstand canes.
- Aerial straps duo: Zaia performed with Romeo, they performed a stunning aerial straps act, while two girls performed a cerceau act on the side.
- Choreography III - Fire dance: The dancing troupe performed with fire clubs, staffs and many other fire dancing apparatus.
- Trampoline and X-board: An X-shaped trampoline had two crossed teeter boards where the trampoline tracks met, the acrobats would flip on the trampoline, and then send other performers flying in the air with the X-board.
- Rola bola: A comical balancing act, a clown created a precarious structure using flexible planks.
- Chinese poles on globes: A group of eight performers were used in this dangerous act, four of the performers walked on globes, the four had a Chinese pole on one of their shoulders, on this pole the other four walked up and would flip or spin to the next pole.
- Aerial frame: Two cradles were at each end, the porter would send the flyer to a catcher, the flyer would perform flips while in the air. The two catchers had a swinging apparatus that they were based on.
Costume designer Dominique Lemieux took inspiration from the inventive dress styles younger generations create for themselves; thus the costumes for Zaia were an eclectic merging of genres. The different styles of outfits represented the differences among the groups of performers. As one of the urban characters, Zaia was seen wearing primarily red, one of the warmer colors. To complement her, Romeo wore warm earth tones with copper and gold highlights. In contrast to the style of the wardrobe of the acrobats and dancers, the clowns wore patches of fabric with patina; their costumes drew inspiration from 18th-century explorers.
The show's score was composed by Violaine Corradi and was released as a CD album on May 26, 2009. Below is a list of the tracks featured on the CD.
- Noi (Finale)
- Aestus Calor (Cityscape)
- Ignis (Zaia's Balloon)
- Aerial Bamboo
- Aerial Silk
- Hoops (featuring Elena Lev, Jan-Feb 2009)
- Globes and Poles (2008-2010)
- Transition into Lion Dancing (2010-2012)
- Globes and Poles (2008-2010)
- Lion Dancing (2010-2012)
- Blue Ales (Interlude)
- Adrideo (Clowns)
- Ardor Oris (Opening)
- Aequor Oris (Fire Dance)
- Caelestis (Aerial Frame)
- Undae (Interlude)
- Juggling (2008-2010)
- Roller Skating (2010-2012)
- Ellâm Onru (Hand to Hand)
- Gaudiumni (Trampoline and X-Board)
- Utinam (Aerial Straps and Hoops)
- Travelling Cowboy (Clown Intro, mid 2009-2012)
- Cityscape (Cityscape, mid 2009)
- Automat Dance (Automatons)
- Rola Bola (2008-2010)
- Clowns (2009-2012)
- Juggling Music (Juggling, 2010-2012)
- Trapeze Music (Flying Trapeze, 2010-2012)
- Aerial Cube Music (Aerial Cube)
In 2011, Cirque du Soleil released Crossroads in Macau, a short documentary about the creation of Zaia.
- "The first permanent Cirque du Soleil show in Asia celebrates its world premiere on August 28 at the Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel — Written and directed by Gilles Maheu". Cirque du Soleil - Press Release. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
- "Zaia: The Show - Theater". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
- Oliver Biggadike (February 7, 2012). "Cirque du Soleil Show in Sands China Casino to Close This Month". Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
- Sands willing to take 'Zaia' losses Macau Daily Times. 19 November 2011.
- "Zaia: Characters". Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-08.
- "Zaia Acts". Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-08.
- "Zaia Acts". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
- Clément, Ronald (2009). Cirque du Soleil 25 Years of Costumes (in Chinese, English, French, and Japanese). Canada: Dépôt légal, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada. pp. 120–125. ISBN 978-2-9803493-4-8.
- "Music of Zaia". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-08.