If one could write the dictionary definition of Kooza, “awe-inspiring, death defying, fun” would accurately capture the essence of Cirque du Soleil’s latest show. Currently showing at the Old Port of Montreal until June 24, the Quebec troupe’s newest performance goes back to the basics – with a twist.

The exploration of acrobatic antics, body-bending contortionism, and the basis of any circus, clowns, enabled the Cirque to rebound from last year’s morbid and somewhat boring Corteo. The three leading ladies, who bent their bodies in ways that made this reporter cringe, were absolutely spectacular. At one point it wasn’t clear which head belonged to which performer. And wait until you get a load of the unbelievable movements one of the performers makes lying on her stomach and at the same time, somehow, walking around her own body! It’s spooktacular! Kooza tells the story of a lonely little guy called The Innocent. He is in search of something cool to jazz up his blasé life and that’s exactly what he gets. The story brings him into contact with a king, a trickster, an obnoxious tourist with a strange dog and a pickpocket, although the story isn’t necessarily the priority. It’s the amazing stunts that bring this show alive. Everything in the show is magnifiee.

The stunts are surely more dangerous than they have been in the past, starting with the tightrope walkers who take the traditional act to the limit. And at this show, I am certain that one performer almost paid the ultimate price of his profession…

The two devil-like dudes who climb the spinning duel hoops and eventuallyend up on the outside looking in will make your heart sink. Dangerous? You bet.

Kooza’s overall look can be described as typical Cirque garb: spectacular, colorful, and outrageous. The costumes and colourful characters really bring to life the essence of what a circus should be.

The juggler was fantastic as he went through the usual fare of juggling rings, bowling pins and balls, but each time he turned it up one more notch. Explaining his antics here will only take away from his sheer brilliance and athleticism.

The sellout crowd, aside from the two cackling hens sitting within earshot, were inspired and moved. Each act out-did the last one in a swirl of circus acts that brought many back to their child-hood years.

The only thing missing were the animals, but in a way, those two loud-mouth women made up for that in their blatant disregard for humanity and their antisocial behaviour.

You think stilts are easy to walk on? Try being catapulted from a springboard high into the air, flipping a couple of times in the air and then landing on a small mattress. Amazing! The feeling of thousands of people holding their breath and exhaling at the same time is something not to be missed. It’s an added bonus.

A man on a unicycle is not an uncommon sight in a circus. A man on a unicycle balancing a woman while he rides in circles and she makes the climb up his body and at one point is pressed over his head by the talented strongman is a another kettle of fish altogether.

The highlight of the show has to be the Asian man who continually piles up chairs and shows off his six-pack abs and matching guns by balancing on a series of small wooden chairs, at one point almost reaching the same height as the lighting technicians. In the end, high above the crowd and with a chair tilted at a 90-degree angle, you could have heard a pin drop across the room as even the nay-saying old women in the adjacent seats shut up long enough to appreciate the beauty and trepidation of le Cirque’s most impressive feat of artistry and athleticism.

The only downside to the show was the 30-minute intermission that is meant to entice you to buy the overpriced merchandise. We understand how much the show costs to produce, but charging $50 for a T-shirt is over the top.

As usual, the musical accompaniment was great. Cirque du Soleil continually produces musical genius that perfectly matches the mood. If you go to the show, pick up a CD, it will soothe your inner beast.

Ticket prices range from $60 to $95 in three different zones. Tickets for seniors and children are cheaper, but for up-to-date information visit:www.cirquedusoleil.com/Cirque