Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Cirque du—Soleil—will return to Santa Monica—with its critically acclaimed big top—production KOOZA at the Santa Monica Pier, premiering Friday, October 16th and continuing through December 20th.

Presented by iShares, KOOZA will be performed for a limited engagement under the trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau (big top) at the Santa Monica Pier.

KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions — acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor.

The name KOOZA is inspired by the Sanskrit word “koza,” which means box, chest or treasure, and was chosen because one of the underlying concepts of the production is the idea of a “circus in a box,” according to Cirque du Soleil.

“KOOZA is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad,” says the show’s writer and director David Shiner.

“The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s very much about ideas, too. As it evolves we are exploring concepts such as fear, identity, recognition and power.”

The show begins with the character “The Trickster” bursting onto the scene like a jack-in-a-box right in front of “The Innocent,” and that is just the first of many surprises to follow. The Innocent’s journey brings him into contact with a panoply of comic characters such as the King, the Trickster, the Heimloss, the Pickpocket, the Obnoxious Tourist and his Bad Dog.

Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, KOOZA explores themes of identity, recognition and power, according to Cirque du Soleil. The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

Several of the 53 performing artists in the show have received awards from important circus arts competitions, notably in juggling and trapeze.

Among the features of the show are the High Wire and a Wheel of Death — an act that Cirque du Soleil has never before presented under the big top.

The show brings together a team of 13 creators, several of whom are working with Cirque for the first time.

Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4 and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays. No performances on Mondays.

Tickets are now available online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza/, or by phone at (800) 450-1480.

Non-peak ticket prices (weekdays; Tuesday thru Friday 4 p.m.) are: Adults: $60 to $125; children (ages 2-12): $42 to $87.50; and students and seniors: $54 to $112.50.

Peak ticket prices (weekends; Friday 8 p.m. through Sunday) are: adults: $65 to $135; and children (ages 2-12): $45.50 to $94.50.

A VIP Tapis Rouge package includes one of the best seats in the house, and access to the VIP suite one hour before the show and during intermission. Adults are $250 each and children (ages 2-12) are $175 each. Taxes included.

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