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Cirque du Soleils Multiculti Universe (photo gallery)

Published: January 29, 2014 (Issue # 1795)



  • Dralion features an international cast, including a St. Petersburg native.
    Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil

  • Contortionists.
    Photo: Daniel Desmarais / Cirque du Soleil

  • Hoop performers.
    Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Mark Delong / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil

  • Little Buddha.
    Photo: Mark Delong / Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil is back in St. Petersburg with an arena show titled Dralion. Opening on Jan. 22, the extravagant show has proven popular with local audiences, easily filling the Ice Palace arena, which has become the troupes home when visiting the city.

The title of the show is a portmanteau of the two emblematic creatures whose images run throughout the performance: The dragon, symbolizing the East, and the lion, symbolizing the West. A slightly promiscuous blend of influences, Dralion combines the 3,000-year old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil but nonetheless offers enough thematically-linked elements to bring the various influences together.

When Dralion was created almost 15 years ago, Cirque du Soleil had wanted to find a way of combining ancient Chinese circus traditions with their contemporary approach and Dralion was the result of that, Mark Shaub, the shows artistic director, told the St. Petersburg Times. When you see the entire show there are a lot of other acts the clowns are definitely not Chinese so its a real melding of the different influences.

As with almost all Cirque productions, the evening begins long before most of the audience have found their seats with a trio of roving clowns causing general mayhem, drawing audience members into the world of the performers.

The show proper starts when a character known as Little Buddha, who acts as a timekeeper, sets the first act in motion.

Drawing inspiration from Eastern philosophy and the quest for harmony between man and nature, Dralion gives human form to the four elements Air, Water, Fire and Earth each of which are identified with a different part of the globe. Each act is overseen by one of the elements whose origin is revealed through costume and music.

The music is really from all over the world. There are influences of Arabic music, Spanish music we do a lot of world music blends. Certainly there is a big element of Asia and particularly Chinese traditions, but it really blends together, said Shaub.

Directed by Guy Caron, who was Cirque du Soleils first artistic director when the company was created in 1984, the show has been seen by more than 7 million people worldwide since it premiered in 1999. The St. Petersburg run is the Russian premiere of the show, which will be followed by performances in Chelyabinsk, Kazan and Moscow before heading to Minsk.

The show features 50 international acrobats, gymnasts, musicians and singers, several of whom are Russian, including a St. Petersburg native.

While parts of the Dralion mythology feel somewhat dated, it is nonetheless a spectacular display of prowess on the part of the performers one that is often as breathtaking in the quieter moments as it is during the big production numbers. With the Russian love and knowledge of circus traditions, Cirque seems to have managed to create quite a few converts to its worldview.

Daily performances of Dralion run through Feb. 2, with matinees on the weekend, at the Ice Palace, 1aProspekt Pyatiletok. M. Prospekt Bolshevikov. Tel. 718 6620.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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