Thirty years after the company launched, Cirque du Soleil is venturing into new territory with an ice show, Crystal. Here, Creative Director Fabrice Lemire tells us what it was like working on this exciting project which is currently touring North America. Be sure to catch one of its eight shows taking place at Abbotsford Centre, April 11-15, 2018.
LB: Is this Cirque du Soleil’s first show on ice?
FL: It is the very first time we tackle the universe of ice, and skaters as well. Other companies have done ice shows before. Until now we have not gone that route, but the timing was perfect. Cirque Du Soleil is 30 years old and we have explored different avenues. It was a natural curve in the exploration of acrobatic and artistic territories. It was a nice curve to grow as an institution.
LB: And so you’ve already done a few shows in other cities, correct?
FL: We did the world premiere on December 21 in Montreal.
LB: Can you tell me a little bit about the story line for the show?
FL: The story of Crystal is something that any of us can really relate to. Crystal, which is the name of the show as well as the main character, does not fit in at home, with her parents, with her family, in the playground, at school. So, it’s this idea that you have when you don’t know who you are; when you question who you are; when you don’t know where you are going or what you’re going to do with yourself. At the beginning of the show, she runs away from home, and she falls through a crack onto a frozen pond. And the metaphor is that during the fall onto the ice, she sees a reflection of herself. She sees herself, she sees the possibilities. It’s an interesting aspect of looking yourself in the mirror and moving on in life. And then it’s about the relationships of who she meets on the journey.
LB: Could you tell me a little bit about some of the challenges you have come across while working on ice (compared to working on a stage)?
FL: The ice has a sense of fragility, in that anyone who stands on it knows how unstable it can be. The ice has a palette because it’s white and also allows us to create a gorgeous backdrop, meaning you can create a landscape which evolves throughout the show by just projecting on the ice. But we had to protect the performers so they would not slip and slide. There were a lot of adjustments such as looking at the proper footwear so the performers had grip but could still glide. And then, on top of this, we had to think of such details as who is going to sharpen their blades, etc.
LB: Are these performers primarily skaters or primarily acrobats?
FL: We ask our acrobats to learn skating and we asked our skaters to be open to do acrobatics. There was so much cross-discipline training as well as grooming the cast so that they feel safe and are learning something from the experience; so that they’re learning to grow as an athlete and an artist at large. It’s an interesting journey as the show continues to evolve and continues to get better and better.
LB: This is the fist Cirque show to incorporate pop songs into its score. Is there a reason for that?
FL: Yes, we’re using popular songs such as “Hello” from Beyonce, etc. It’s because there’s an emotional connection between Crystal and the song. We’re creating a show for an arena that is very large scale. Those pop songs allow us to build a bridgeway between the performers on the ice and those in the last row.
LB: Will Cirque be performing more ice shows in the future?
FL: It’s a gorgeous production, there’s so much that we can do and I hope as a company that we continue to explore the direction with shows on ice. If this one is a huge success I strongly believe the company will look in that direction again.
Crystal tickets are available via https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/canada/abbotsford/crystal/buy-tickets