Cirque’s du Soliel’s
In order to witness Chinese athletic artistry and the inspirations of Eastern Philosophy, one would have to book a flight to the Far East for the first, and possibly take a class at Cleveland State University for the second.
The never-ending quest to find a balance between mankind and his surroundings is something mankind has and will always aspire to find. Nowhere in everyday life has this quest ever been more splendidly captured than through Dralion, the latest Cirque du Soliel performance to be coming to Cleveland’s Wolstein Center, April 4 through April 8.
The show’s name is derived from its two emblematic creatures: the dragon, symbolizing the Far East, and the lion, symbolizing the West and it has been getting rave reviews so far in 2012. “We have gotten a lot of wows,” said Dralion publicist Julie Desmarais. “It has been amazing.”We have 50 performers. To see what they do night after night is really incredible. They are real people performing unreal things; I include in that our musicians.”
Dralion which got its start in 1999, has been viewed by more than seven million people worldwide, and it is bringing its death-defying feats to Cleveland for the first time. The show which was stage under the big top for the first 11 years began to make its way into US indoor stadiums and arenas for the first time just two years ago. So rather than simply moving into bigger venues, the show’s creators had to devise new routines and new acts to accommodate a larger stage setting. “We have 80% of our cast is new since 2010,” said Desmarais. “All of our performers work on new performances, new acts and their skills every day. You could see the show four or five times a week and never see the same show.”
“We have the use of the elements of air, water, fire and earth which all come together in the show to show that there is a delicate balance in nature,” adds Desmarais, who also explains that commonality of the team of directors trying to balance the various components of this intricately detailed performance.
Just a short list of the various acts, and one instantly sees, that this is not just acrobat, music, stage and costume operating in different capacities. In fact: aerial hoops, bamboo pole and hand balancing, hoop diving , juggling skipping ropes in human pyramid form, Diablo yo-yo tricks, and rotating stacked chair balancing are all done in-snych with all the aforementioned components.
“It’s a natural evolution. We always try to improve the arrangements,” veteran Cirque keyboardist and Dralion bandleader Stephen Poulin says of the play, which is accustomed to being staged in the larger venues where each night the compositions are reworked to top the night before. “It makes it better, and I did not expect that, but the sound is more round and clearer. Again, it’s a constant evolution.”
And as far as language goes, much like other Cirque performances are delivered in French and a variety of other languages, but that appears to be part of the grand design.
“Every part of the world is reflected in the music ; it is universal,” Poulin says of Dralion of which he
began as the keyboardist for the first three years, and for the past nine years has also been band leader.
And with the timing of the music and changes of performances being so crucial Poulin says his sextet of musicians has to be very flexible and have the ability to improvise with the acrobats, gymnasts, musicians and singers all interacting. “That is what makes it so fun, is you never know what to expect.”
Between artistic director, production directors and performer coaches, there has to be a synergy of capturing the elements of nature, that makes it all work as one unit, and therein lies the awesome nature of and mystery of what how Dralion works like no other Cirque show.
And much like the other Cirque shows, performers work eight days for every two days off, and 10 weeks for every two weeks of rest. For Dralion, the show will visit 40 different US cities in 2012.