by John de Dios
Video shot and edited by Rogelio Garcia
Harmony. Grace. Beauty.
Words to describe Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion and so much more.
The oftentimes jaw-dropping show features a melding of Chinese traditional dance and martial arts with Cirque’s trademark Avant-garde style of acrobatics.
“We took 3,000 years of Chinese acrobatic tradition,” Artistic director Sean McKeown said, “and did a very special blending of that tradition with a very unique Cirque du Soleil of doing things.”
The complex and breathtaking whimsy of Cirque begins at their headquarters in Montreal, Canada, where the recruited artists from all over the world will travel and have their bodies measured for custom-made costumes fitted specifically to their bodies, said Melody Wood, Dralion’s head of wardrobe.
Dralion’s, and Cirque du Soleil in general, complexity in costumes and makeup prevents customary understudies or replacement artists that traditional theater has during times of emergency. Instead, Cirque’s deep roster of talented acrobats and performers are constantly prepared to switch to a different and equally stunning act should there be a need, Wood added.
For Dralion, featured performances Diabolo and the Aerial Hoop provide rotational acts that can be added or removed from the show at the artistic director’s decision. In Diabolo, or Chinese yo-yo, female performers, dressed in neon green and blue school girl uniforms, manipulate, juggle and control a wooden spool using two sticks linked together with a string, according to their website.
The Aerial Hoop, which was also featured during opening night, displayed an almost superhuman Marie-Ève Bisson as she flew across the stage, her body hanging precariously onto a hoop suspended, often times, several meters or so above the stage. In a whimsical chase, it seemed the performance was a dance of lovers with Yeo, the representation of fire, playfully chasing after her across the stage in his own vibrant attire.
Intertwined throughout the show are clown acts that entertain all members of the audience with their antics. Three of them speaking in a mix of Italian, Spanish, maybe some French and gibberish flitter across and up-and-down the stage in slapstick graceful to themselves to the delight of the crowd.
But the show also offers unique aspects like the Crossed Wheel, a crowd-favorite that was created specifically for Cirque by former gymnast and current performer Jonathan Morin. Morin spend years learning the science and physical aspects to master the contraption.
“I got to control myself and the apparatus, which was the biggest challenge,” Morin said.
Working with Morin on the apparatus, McKeown wanted to ensure that he could bring an effective interpretation of Morin’s vision on the stage.
“It was pretty magnificent,” Georgina Hillman, 33, said. Hillman was at the show with her 11-year-old son Ben Cañedo to celebrate his birthday. Hillman and Cañedo had attended the Cirque du Soleil show after being enthralled by traveling circus and acrobatic extravaganza the year before. “It just made me happy.”
Dralion is now playing at the Tucson Convention Center through Sunday, Nov. 25. For ticket information, click here.