Cirque du Soleil's Dralion a Breathtaking, Thanksgiving Family Affair

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Dante Adela mixes martial arts and ballet in his interpretation of Yao, the representation of Fire.
  • John de Dios
  • Dante Adela melds martial arts and ballet in his interpretation of Yao, the representation of Fire.

Jonathan Morin plays Kala, a time-keeper of sorts, that performs in the unique Crossed Wheel that he invented specifically for Cirque. Morin joined the stage opening night with more than 50 other acrobats and artists representing 17 different nationalities.
  • John de Dios
  • Jonathan Morin plays Kala, a time-keeper of sorts, that performs in the unique Crossed Wheel that he invented specifically for Cirque. Morin joined the stage opening night with more than 50 other acrobats and artists representing 17 different nationalities.

Tara Catherine Pandeya, center, portrays Oceane, the representation of Water. Oceane is flanked by acrobats who performed on trampolines. The set for Dralion itself was as big a part of the show as the cast members.
  • John de Dios
  • Tara Catherine Pandeya, center, portrays Oceane, the representation of Water. Oceane is flanked by acrobats who performed on trampolines. The set for Dralion itself was as big a part of the show as the cast members.

The lead characters of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Little Buddha prepare to welcome the other lead characters at the start of the performance. The cast members wear elaborate costumes specifically designed for their bodies.
  • John de Dios
  • The lead characters of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Little Buddha prepare to welcome the other lead characters at the start of the performance. The cast members wear elaborate costumes specifically designed for their bodies, said Melody Wood, the head of wardrobe.

In a word: breathtaking.

Cirque du Soleil's Dralion, a traveling whiz-bang spectacle captivates and mesmerizes it's audiences with a rich melding of Chinese traditional performances and Cirque's trademark Avant-garde style of acrobatics.

The slightly over two-hour event is a harmonious blend of rich color, texture and a powerful expression of music and song.

Gezile Daka, 24, a local, attended the show with her boyfriend Jhonas Rubalcava, 26. Both have seen Cirque in Las Vegas and were a bit skeptical when they saw that Cirque was traveling to Tucson, they said. But after the first hour before intermission, both Daka and Rubalcava were already blown away what the show had to offer, they added.

And rightfully so: Dralion's 54 performers from 17 nations take the stage unflinchingly diving through hoops, suspended in the air by silk, or spinning in a unique and innovative "Crossed Wheel" contraption made specifically for Cirque by gymnast and performer Jonathan Morin. Morin, himself a sight to see, spins perpendicular or parallel to the ground effortlessly with such grace that he seems to fly across the stage. Then again, it probably helps that he is also built like a comic book superhero.

"It was pretty magnificent," said Georgina Hillman, 33, who brought her son Ben Cañeda, 11, with for his birthday. "(We were having) one of those superhero conversations where if you could have one superpower, poof, you have all the talent it takes to put on a show like (Dralion)."

During the performance, you can see people around us literally cringing and biting their teeth about some of the things they were doing, Hillman said.

"They harmonized really well together," Hillman said about the music and the singing used throughout the show and acrobatics. "It just made me happy."

The show is about harmony, peace and family, said Sean McKeown, the artistic director.

It's the perfect show to bring the family together, Rubalcava said.

Go see it. Consider it an effective and worthy counter programming to all the Black Friday craziness that begins, at some places, as early as 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

Cirque du Soleil at Tucson Convention Center Arena
Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m through Sunday, Nov. 25
Showtimes at 7:30 except for Nov. 24, 3:30 & 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 25, 1 & 5 p.m.

Read the preview for the show written by editorial intern Mariana Dale here.

Visit Dralion's website here.

More photos after the jump.

Diabolo, or Chinese yo-yo, is one of the acts rotated through Dralion by the artistic director. In this act, the performers juggle and let fly a wooden spool with increasing speed and complexity using only a string that is controlled by two sticks.
  • John de Dios
  • Diabolo, or Chinese yo-yo, is one of the acts rotated through Dralion by the artistic director. In this act, the performers juggle and let fly a wooden spool with increasing speed and complexity using only a string that is controlled by two sticks.

Gaya, goddess of the earth, is portrayed by Dioman Gbou, an artist recruited from the Ivory Coast. Gaya is one of the four elements that guide the audience through the extravaganza.
  • John de Dios
  • Gaya, goddess of the earth, is portrayed by Dioman Gbou, an artist recruited from the Ivory Coast. Gaya is one of the four elements that guide the audience through the extravaganza.

The Dralion is an amalgamation of dragons and lions: a symbolic merging of Chinese tradition with Cirques avant-garde acrobatic style.
  • John de Dios
  • The Dralion is an amalgamation of dragons and lions: a symbolic merging of Chinese tradition with Cirque's avant-garde acrobatic style.

Dralions and acrobatics take the stage.

Dante Adela, playing Yeo the representation of Fire, engages the Chinese acrobats during the Bamboo Poles performance. Of the 54 cast members of Dralion, 26 of them come from the same province in China and perform some of the larger ensemble acts during the show.
  • John de Dios
  • Dante Adela, playing Yeo the representation of Fire, engages the Chinese acrobats during the Bamboo Poles performance. Of the 54 cast members of Dralion, 26 of them come from the same province in China and perform some of the larger ensemble acts during the show.

Jonathan Morin, a former gymnast, aerial artist and acrobat, displays his physical prowess in the crowd-favorite Crossed Wheel. Morin innovated the Crossed Wheel specifically for Cirque du Soleil, teaching himself all the physics and engineering needed to create the aerodynamic contraption.
  • John de Dios
  • Jonathan Morin, a former gymnast, aerial artist and acrobat, displays his physical prowess in the crowd-favorite Crossed Wheel. Morin innovated the Crossed Wheel specifically for Cirque du Soleil, teaching himself all the physics and engineering needed to create the aerodynamic contraption.

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