From Parkettes to Cirque du Soleil for former LV gymnast
Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna” makes its Philadelphia region premiere under the big top, July 24-Aug. 25, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks.
Allentown native and gymnast Alix Croop performs in “Amaluna.”
“Amaluna,” written and directed by Tony Award-winning director, Diane Paulus, blends Greek and Norse mythology, William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute” in a production that has a cast almost entirely of women.
It’s the third Cirque du Soleil production in which Croop has performed.
In 2012, Croop performed in Cirque’s “Viva Elvis” in Las Vegas as a Duo Aerial Hoop and High Bar artist. Then she performed in “Corteo,” touring South and Central America. Croop joined “Amaluna” in 2015.
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of different shows because I got to do different acts in each of those shows,” says Croop in a phone interview.
“Amaluna” includes acrobatics and circus arts, including feats on aerial straps, uneven bars, suspended hoops, Chinese pole, teeterboard and a 5-foot-high water bowl. The sets give audiences the experience of a mystical and enchanted island forest.
In “Amaluna,” Croop performs on the uneven bars.
Croop, 31, began training in gymnastics at age of 5. She was homeschooled through Bridgeway Academy, Catasauqua, while training at the Parkettes National Gymnastic Training Center, Allentown. Her father, Russ, lives in Macungie. Her mother, Annie, lives in Emmaus. Her grandmother, Janet Person, lives in Macungie.
She competed in artistic gymnastics for 16 years. Croop attended the University of Pittsburgh and competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association on a full scholarship. She received an MS in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University. For a time, she was a therapist in neuropsychology, a career that she loved.
“While I was getting my masters, I saw my first Cirque show and the coach encouraged me to put an audition video together. I was like, ‘Let’s do it!’”
“Amaluna” takes its name from a mysterious island governed by goddesses and guided by the moon’s cycles. Queen Prospera directs her daughter, Miranda, in a coming-of-age ceremony that honors femininity, renewal and rebirth.
In the wake of a storm, a group of young men lands on the island, triggering a love story between Miranda and a brave young suitor. The couple faces trials and setbacks before they can achieve harmony.
“‘Amaluna’ is a tribute to the work and voice of women,” says “Amaluna” Director of Creation Fernand Rainville.
In “Amaluna,” Croop plays the role of an Amazon woman.
“There are eight or nine of us and our job is to protect the island. We are warriors. The sailors crash on the shore and they seem like trouble. We’re protecting Miranda, the main character. Prospera, her mother, brought us to the island to protect her.
“We warm up to [the sailors]. They show us their skills and we’re impressed. We eventually become friends.
“It’s really cool to play this character because we’re strong, fierce women and it’s a large tribe. I think it’s fun for the audience to follow us throughout the show.
“There’s a love story. You see the struggle. I think that people can relate to that. They are touched when they see what Romeo and Miranda are going through. The clowns have a little love story, too.”
Croop has her own love story, too, off-stage.
She recently became engaged to fellow “Amaluna” cast member Evgeny Kurkin, who performs on the Chinese pole.
“Amaluna” has a cast of 48 artists representing 25 nationalities.
“We have a really unique show,” says Croop. “It’s a completely different storyline with different acts, something new and exciting to see.”
Tickets: cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna https; Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks; phillyexpocenter.com; 484-754-EXPO