Four years after Cirque du Soleil performed Alegria more than 80 times to sold-out crowds in Dubai, the troupe returns with Dralion. Incorporating the 3,000-year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts, the show makes its Middle East debut this week
Following up on previous stagings in Dubai - before Alegria in 2009, there was Quidam in 2007 - Dralion isCirque du Soleil's 12th touring production. Pronounced "Dra-lee-on", the name is derived from two emblematic creatures: the dragon, symbolising the East, and the lion, symbolising the West. In this production, the four elements that govern the natural order take on a human form and are represented by colour: air is blue, water is green, fire is red, earth is amber.
Since Dralion is based on a Far Eastern theme, the show will feature some traditional Chinese elements, such as dragon and lion dances, reworked in the trademark Cirque du Soleil style. The traditional bamboo poles act also gets a modern makeover as six performers keep poles "in flight" overhead while performing acrobatic feats on the ground. Expect to see the diabolo, or Chinese yo-yo, in action, as well as some contemporary manoeuvres including an aerial ballet-with-hoop, or Hibana.
More than 5,000 metres of fabric were used to create the 1,500 pieces used in the show - including more than 300 pairs of shoes, as well as hats and other accessories. Some of the outfits also incorporate some unusual material, such as horsehair, raffia, metal, window screen, emu feathers, crystals, Styrofoam, plastic, bubble wrap, fun fur, springs and an array of hardware items. The majority are custom-made for each artist, with artisans at the Cirque du Soleil costume workshop in Montréal working for more than three months on the project. There are four permanent members of staff on the Dralion wardrobe team, assisted by three local workers picked up in each city, responsible for repairing and maintaining the wardrobe.
What started as a group of 20 street performers in 1984 is now a Quebec-based corporation, with 5,000 employees, including more than 1,300 performing artists from about 50 different countries. Cirque du Soleil has performed in front of more than 100 million spectators in more than 300 cities in more than 40 countries on six continents. The Dubai International Film Festival screened James Cameron's 3D feature film based on the phenomenon, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, in December.
Dralion will be performed in Dubai from Wednesday until February 16 at Dubai World Trade Center. Tickets start at Dh295 and are on sale at www.platinumlist.ae and www.tixbox.com. For more information, visit www.dralion.com