photo by Matt Beard
There’s a first time for everything. And for Cirque du Soleil, this is the first time a show has been performed on ice…
Julie Desmarais, Senior Publicist for Cirque du Soleil’s CRYSTAL, says, “It’s a spectacle. It is…truly an experience that has never been done this way before. Come to the Wells Fargo arena and enjoy the performance and immerse yourself in the universe of CRYSTAL. There are many ‘wow’ moments that will keep you at the edge of your seat.”
Fans of Cirque du Soleil will be blown away at the unique performances of this particular show. Find out more about the production, costumes, music and just how hard everyone worked on developing CRYSTAL (many acrobats had to adapt to or learn new skills specifically for this show) in our Q&A with Julie below. CRYSTAL runs in Philly from June 20th to June 23rd (and then travels to nearby Allentown). Tickets can be purchased here.
Q: CRYSTAL is Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd production, but the first one on ice. How did this concept come to be?
A: We always aim to push boundaries and surprise our audience while continuing to reinvent our way of doing what we do. The concept of producing a show on ice has been something that Cirque du Soleil had been wanting to do for a while now – we were just waiting to have the material and the right team to build a show on ice from the ground up.
Q: Tell us about the show’s heroine, Crystal. Who is she to the story? And the skater who plays her- what is her background in figure skating?
A: We follow Crystal in her journey of self-exploration. She feels different and misunderstood at school and at home. On her quest to finding herself she meets her Reflection who hands her a pen. This moment becomes Crystal’s opportunity to turn the page and start something new. She realizes that her strength is within herself to be who she was always destined be – Creative, Confident and Curious.
The main roles of Crystal and the Reflection are performed by different female figure skaters in rotation during the week. The role is also portrayed by two acrobats during the Swinging trapeze and the hand to trapeze acts which represent the evolution of Crystal at those precise moments in the story.
Most of our figure skaters started at a young age and competed prior to turning professional.
Q: Figure skaters had to learn acrobatics and stunts they aren’t used to. Circus artists had to learn how to skate! And extreme skaters had to learn figure skating! Tell me a bit about this process of learning new skills? How long did it take for everyone to learn and get comfortable with their routines before the show started to tour?
A: We conducted several workshops prior to the arrival of all artists in Montreal to begin the creation process. The workshops allowed us to explore the artistic possibilities of the ice.
In June 2017, the cast of CRYSTAL arrived in Montreal to begin creation which lasted three months. During the creation, and even now, we had skating, lessons incorporated into the artist schedule. We had skating coaches teaching the acrobats how to skate and as the show has grown we have noticed a lot of cross training and collaboration between the acrobats and skaters. In some cases, acrobats had to adapt or learn how to do their skills while wearing skates. For some it was like starting all over from the beginning in a specialty that was new to them.
Q: How are the costumes in this show different than other Cirque shows? What makes them distinctive to the setting/atmosphere?
A: The costume were designed by Marie Chantale Vaillancourt. She was inspired by the surreal environment in which Crystal evolves and the fantastical world of ice.
Q: How was the music chosen for CRYSTAL? What are some of the genres we’ll hear during the show?
A: The music of CRYSTAL is cinematic in scope while supporting the narrative and pulsing to the rhythm of the action on, “below”, and above the ice. With its sweeping, atmospheric and romantic soundscapes, the score moves from grand orchestral sounds to klezmer-style chamber music to melodic folk and rocking beats.
For the 1st time, outside of a tribute show, Cirque du Soleil has incorporated pop songs in the soundtrack of a show. The team made this choice to reach a more diverse audience and to highlight certain key moments in the show. These songs were chosen to enhance the emotional intensity of the scenes they accompany.
Q: There are some unique performances in this show, with tricks and routines unlike anything a Cirque audience may have seen before. What is your favorite scene in the show to watch and what does it involve?
A: It’s difficult to highlight one favorite moment in the show. I think the energy, the passion and the joy the artists of give to the audience each night along with the audience’s reaction are my favorite moments in the performance. Everyone who will see the show will be touched by something different – whether it’s the skating, the acrobatics, the music or the comic moments.