Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is it a Dragon or a Lion?

The famous French Canadian circus troupe, Cirque du Soleil, passed though our area over the weekend. This particular production is called Dralion. It is a fusion of Asian and European cultures. The show first came to California in 1999 and made a stop in Irvine. When I saw the show in '99 it was performed under a signature Cirque du Soleil tent. At the present, Dralion is shown in an arena setting, which I'm against. I'd rather see their shows under the circus tent. It's more intimate, but this still won't keep me from wanting see a show.

I will say that both Eric and I had a change of opinion for this show. Dralion actually played out just fine in the Long Beach arena. Unlike the Cirque show Quidam, this show didn't have an arching track above the stage to obstruct views of spectators in higher seats. Our seats were a decent distance and we saw everything, including the performer's facial expressions. I know I'm dwelling on the venue choice, but Quidam really didn't play well here. Eric also made a good point that the color scheme for Quidam doesn't reach the viewer as well as the vibrant colors of Dralion. Quidam is a much darker show with many grey and blue hues.

There isn't really a story to this show and that is just fine with me. The themes brought forth are of the four elements of the Earth. Characters personify the elements through use of color and choreography. At one point the avatars of Water and Fire have a brief, but hostile dance with one another. I might have chosen Silver to represent "Air", but I am sure the color chosen, Green, is seen better onstage.

Although not all the acts were present in this re-staging of the show, I liked it. It gives someone a reason to see the show for a second time. There were four acts that weren't in the original creation. Those acts were Trampoline, Diabolos, Aerial Hoop, and an all new apparatus called Cross Wheel. These four acts in the show really injected new energy into the 13 year old production. Luckily the music hasn't changed. It has high energy containing Spanish and Italian lyrics. As usual, there are also lyrics in the "Cirquish" language. This language is used to evoke a feeling and not put so much focus on paying attention to the song lyrics. The music is there to act as a backdrop and emotional guide of the acts.

It has to be mentioned that the clown acts fell flat. I don't know what the company was thinking by approving these four or five interludes of "comedy". These four clowns even managed to wreck a section where the clowns are mimicking the whole show. They have "make shift" costumes and attempt to repeat the grand feats of strength, but comically fail. The original clowns had great timing with this.  These new clowns seemed to be going through the motions. I guess we all have our days where we just want to be off from work.

I really wanted to get some shots during the show, but this is of course prohibited. I do believe that these performers give so much of themselves and deserve to be paid for what we see them do. Deep down......I still wish I had snuck a few shots. The only one I took was of the stage prior to the start of the show. Unfortunately it doesn't show the impressive structure that towers at the back end.

Shadow interlude at the end of Intermission

I'll always be a fan of Cirque, even with not so great clowning. I don't think a traveling production is due to pass through any time soon. We do hope to see Iris again with its newer length of just 90 minutes. I will definitely report on Cirque again when we see it. Remember to support the arts in whatever form you choose.

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