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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A show that is out of this world


Zaia, the first Cirque du Soleil show based in Asia, has dazzled countless visitors since its launch in August 2008.

Provided to China Daily

2011-09-20

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

A giant polar bear hovering in space while a girl leaves Earth on a balloon sounds more like fantasy than acrobatics, unless it's Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun).
Since August 2008, Zaia, the first Cirque du Soleil show based in Asia, has dazzled and inspired countless visitors to the gambling mecca of Macao.
Zaia is the show's main character, a young girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut and discovering the mysteries of space. Her celestial journey follows in the footsteps of her parents. Her odyssey leads her to take a fresh look at the beauty of Earth and humanity.
The show presents the young girl's perception of space and the panoply of fantastic creatures that live there. Zaia is a Greek word meaning "life" and is also reminiscent of Gaia, the self-aware spirit of Earth.
The fairy-tale plot of exploration becomes a series of acrobatic acts, while introducing traditional Chinese culture such as the lion dance, ice skating and clown performances.
It opened at the Venetian Macau-Resort-Hotel and the resort's owners, Sands Corporation, forked out some $150 million to build the 1,800-seat theater custom-made for the show.
The enormous orb-shaped theater - crimson and plush - arguably gives the upper midrange audience members the best view of the swooping dancers, dangling equilibrists, and quick-change clown routines.
The show features dances from various regions - ranging from break-dancing, to tango, tap and hip-hop - all unified by the rhythm of a bombastic soundtrack and perilous acts, including fire dancing, a four-pronged see-saw and human-catapult.
For those who aren't into dancers and acrobats, Zaia still offers fun and excitement, with its eye-catching costumes, visual and sound effects, and live music.
Costume designer Dominique Lemieux was inspired by young fashion, with Zaia's red outfit an eclectic mix of genres. The various costumes represent the different styles of the performers. Romeo, a lead character who falls for Zaia, wears warm earth tones with copper and gold highlights.
In contrast to the wardrobe of the acrobats and dancers, the clowns wear patches of fabric that have a patina, drawing inspiration from 18th-century explorers.
The visual and stage effects expand the show from the stage to the entire hall, transporting audiences into another world.
Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian entertainment company that describes itself as a "dramatic mix of circus acts and street entertainment". Based in Montreal Quebec, Canada, it was founded in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Laliberte and Daniel Gauthier.
Initially named Les Echassiers (Stilt Walkers), it premiered in 1980. Its theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals helped define Cirque du Soleil as a contemporary circus.
Each Cirque du Soleil performance is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own themes and storyline.
After a number of expansions, Cirque du Soleil now has 5,000 employees from over 50 countries, including 1,300 performers.
So far it has introduced its 22 touring or resident shows to over 100 million people in 300 cities, on six continents.
Daniel Lamarre, president of Cirque du Soleil, is confident about expanding its shows to China in particular and Asia in general.
"Macao, unlike Las Vegas, has few entertaining shows. Zaia made a good start over the past three years and has attracted more visitors to Macao," he says.
Lamarre says he hopes Disneyland in Shanghai will become another home to the troupe.
China Daily

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