Cirque du Soleil brings its amazing gravity-defying feats to Van Andel Arena this month
Curtains: A performance from "Dralion."
Friday, January 07, 2011
By Sheila McGrath Advance Newspapers
If your idea of a circus involves tired-looking clowns in greasepaint and wigs, prepare to be amazed by Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion, which comes to Grand Rapids for eight performances January 12—16.
Dancers perform acrobatics while juggling. Acrobats skip rope while juggling other acrobats. In all, the show features more than fifty performers stretching the notions of what the human body is capable.
Cirque du Soleil began as a group of twenty performers from Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, that roamed the streets on stilts, juggling, dancing, and breathing fire. Since its beginning in 1984, the organization has grown into a business employing 5,000 employees with twenty-one different shows traveling around the world simultaneously.
Vladik Miagkostoupov, a juggler with Dralion, first saw a Cirque du Soleil show when he was seven or eight years old. He was so entranced by the production he decided then and there it was what he wanted to do. Since his parents were both entertainers with the Moscow Circus and had been training him in dancing and acrobatics from the age of four, it wasn’t an impossible dream.
“I really liked the music, the lighting, the costumes—everything was just so different. Before that show, there was nothing like it,” he said.
He joined Cirque du Soleil in 2003 in a production of Solstrom, and joined the Dralion tour in 2006.
Dralion premiered in Montreal in 1999 and has been seen by more than seven million people around the world. Its name derives from the combination of dragon, representing the East, and lion, representing the West. The musical score, performed live by six musicians and two singers, combines classic Indian melodies with the sounds of Andalusia, Africa, and Central and Western Europe.
The theme of Dralion draws on Eastern philosophy and its quest for harmony between humans and nature.
But that’s really beside the point. The story hardly matters, it’s just a backdrop for letting the performers defy the laws of gravity in all sorts of amazing and entertaining ways.
In addition to the jugglers and rope-skippers, Dralion incorporates aerialists on trampolines, an acrobat who performs on towers of stacked chairs, an aerial hoop act, an intertwined couple flying over the stage in an aerial pas de deux, men balancing on bamboo poles, a hand-balancer, and a hoop-diving troupe. And, of course, clowns. But not of the greasepaint-and-wig variety.
Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion" will take the stage at Van Andel Arena at 7:30 p.m. January 12-15, 3::30 p.m. Janaury 14 and 15, and 1 and 5 p.m. Janaury 16. Tickets range from $80-$35/adults and $65-$28/children 12 and under. Premium seats also are available. Visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/drailon
or call 800/745-3000. the Van Andel Arena is located at 130 W. Fulton St