ARTIST VIEW: The Dance, Art & Intrigue of Dralion Comes to ‘Cuse
BY CARMEN E. ZAFAR | PHOTO BY DANIEL DESMARAIS
Imagine you’re sitting in the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. There are waves of colors coming over you, each representing a different, unique expression. You’re seated, but the colors trigger your imagination and now you’re feeling the show, too. The fusion of the ancient Chinese circus and the avant-garde style of Cirque du Soleil are too much to ignore.
Since launching the show, “Dralion” (pronounced “Drah-lee-on”), 13 years ago, the style and show’s pizzazz has wowed more than eight million viewers around the globe. The name “Dralion” is drawn from its two main symbols: the dragon, representing the East, and the lion, representing the West. The show’s inspiration was born from the Eastern philosophy, which maintains a perpetual quest for harmony between humankind and nature. Traveling across the country with the large team of performers, technicians, directors, photographers and designers, Julie Desmarais, publicist for Dralion, says the energy is unending.
The international cast consists of 54 world-class acrobats representing 13 different countries, gymnasts, musicians, singers and comedic characters. Keeping with the tradition of the Eastern theme, 26 performers hail from China. “It’s a unique experience with high level acrobatics and amazing creations,” Desmarais said. These amazing creations are walls, pyramids and forms all created by the fusion of many acrobats. The story of Dralion is rolled out with the joining of water, fire, air and earth, says Desmarais. “It’s a union of nature that comes into harmony.” Each element is represented by specific color, fire is red, earth is purple, water is green and air is blue. According to Desmarais, the acrobats are hopping, dancing, diving and completing feats you’ll only believe if you see them in person.
Desmarais says Cirque has been “reinventing itself” over the past few years. The performance organization has taken into consideration the crowd’s favorites and has brought back more intricate forms of ancient acrobatics. “Besides the Asian flavor to the theme, the high level of acrobatics and the beats of the music all tell an amazing story of passion and love,” Desmarais said. The music is performed live by six musicians and alos there is an amazing solo and duo performance that Cirque is excited for viewers to see. A few years ago, Dralion was revamped. The creators re-worked the lighting, set design and acrobatics for the show. Also, they created new acts and implemented new music.
Many couples attend Cirque performances, however, Desmarais says many families fill the arenas now because it’s appropriate for everyone and the show is very entertaining and lively for children. “We’ve tested Dralion among many audiences and everyone had a good time,” she said. Kids mostly enjoy the acrobatics and colors, but also the interaction between the comedians, ancient circus clowns and the audience. Desmarais says, “It’s very funny and a great experience for children.” A favorite new stunt is the “Diabolo,” which means “the devil on two sticks.” A diabolo is a Chinese yo-yo and in the show acrobats use two very tall sticks with a chord between them to become a human yo-yo. “The show is just great for everybody,” Desmarais said. “It’s very colorful and amazing to see these performers, working and pushing their bodies…it’s incredible for them to be performing impossible feats.”
If you would like more information about Dralion or Cirque Du Soliel, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com. *Costume by: François Barbeau