by Erin Ward
VANCOUVER – After four months of acrobats learning to skate and skaters learning acrobatics, Cirque du Soleil has officially begun touring North America with Crystal, its first-ever performance on ice.
Tour publicist Julie Desmarais explains that introducing acrobatics to ice required a discovery process unlike any other Cirque has embarked on.
“The acrobats needed to be open minded to be able to work on this new surface,” she says. “We had to figure out how they could tumble, do end-to-end, do acrobatics over the ice surface, and how the skaters could be incorporated into the acrobatics.”
The skaters and acrobats worked well together, she says, collaborating on how to combine their skills.
“There is a mutual respect within the cast — everybody is eager to learn from one another. There’s a real sharing that takes place.”
Apart from the novelty of the tricks developed using this new surface, the ice is also fitting for the storyline, which follows the main character, Crystal, deep into the surreal world of her imagination. The smooth, white, mirror-like ice provides an ideal surface to project images onto that represent what Crystal discovers within.
Crystal enters a world within after walking out onto a frozen pond and falling through the ice. The world is populated by shadowy figures that represent her subconscious, strange versions of her family members, and a comedic imaginary friend. Aided by her shadow self — a reflection of a dark side of her personality — Crystal discovers, and learns to embrace, her uniqueness and creativity.
Desmarais says the cast is excited to finally be on the road after a long period of workshopping, developing, and rehearsing the piece.
“It’s the best thing to see the audiences and see their reactions — it’s quite amazing,” she says. “There are a lot of new acrobatics and unexpected [elements], and the show is appealing to wide audiences. Everybody takes something out of Crystal.”
Cirque du Soleil: Crystal runs from April 11-15 at Abbotsford Centre.Cirque du Soleil