Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale will host KOOZA, a Cirque du Soleil show, which debuted in 2007. Arizona is one of only four U.S. stops on this year’s tour. The show runs June 8 – July 15 with 33 shows featuring  world-class gymnasts as well as clowns.
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Cirque du Soleil soars into Valley

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 5/30/2012

Michael Smith acknowledges that nothing he’d done in his career really prepared him for his current job.
Despite 15 years in the theater world as both a performer and director including work in London’s West End Smith said becoming an artistic director for Cirque du Soleil was a unique challenge.
“Absolutely it could be intimidating, but the reason it isn’t is because these people are so talented and have so much passion and commitment for what they are doing,” Smith said.
“Budget is a consideration with Cirque du Soleil, but you’re really only limited by your imagination and what they’re capable of athletically. We try to push the boundaries as far as possible.”
After spending the last year in Japan, KOOZA, which premiered in 2007, is coming to Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium for 33 performances beginning June 8 and running through July 15.
The show’s run has included 116 people from 23 different countries around the world.
“There’s a philosophy with this company that is different from the theater world where you have a script and regardless of who the actors are you just copy and paste new names and they’re asked to play the same role,” he said. “With what we’re doing when we add a new person we look at it as an opportunity to have the show evolve. That’s how you keep a show that has been running for five years fresh.”
Having previously worked in the world of theater Smith said there is a big difference working for Cirque du Soleil.
“There is a different atmosphere than in theater,” he said. “People in theater are competing to get noticed so they’re competitive against each other. These are elite athletes. They really are competing with themselves to perfect their routine. Plus as athletes they have that teamwork mentality.”
Phoenix will be one of four stop on their U.S. tour, with University of Phoenix Stadium providing the lone west coast stop.
Smith said those attending KOOZA will be taken by a number of  elements.
“The high level of acrobatics for one and the art of clowning for another,” he said. “But I think the interesting theme that plays out is the duality of people. Everybody has ambiguity because they have a good and a bad side to their character.”
Because they travel the world the shows are written such that they don’t require an understanding of a language.
“We have universal themes,” Smith said. “What sold me on working this show was one character is trying to fly a kite that  doesn’t fly at the start of the show. That represents his dream, to strive for something. By the end of the show the kite flies.”
For information on the show go to cirquedusoleil.com/kooza. Tickets range in price from $35 to $130.