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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

Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organizations office.


Take the opportunity to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Centers series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this months lessons being visual arts.



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