Smoke filled the stage, as Azala (air), Oceane (water), Yao (fire) and Gaya (earth) danced together in time, beginning Cirque du Soleil Dralion’s opening night at The Taco Bell arena Thursday.
The stage was surrounded by six yellow lanterns which hung from the ceiling and a large wall depicting a futuristic temple served as the background.
After the elements finished their opening dance Kala, a representation of time, appeared with a hoop-within-a-hoop.
Kala exemplified the heart of time as he flipped with and through his circle. He often grabbed the edges of the silver hoops and spun around in dizzying configurations.
While Kala dominated the time-moving hoops, Yao controlled the show and its pace.
Yao danced around the stage with his face painted white and his intense red costume flowing around him like flames.
Yao and Oceane were partners in many dances, counteracting each other’s elements as their steps mirrored each other’s.
The trampoline act was an example of water and fire working in unison. Trampolines were placed next to a wall and athletes started out placed at different spots on the wall.
They all took turns doing flips from the wall onto the trampoline and running up the wall.
While the performers seemed to make their movements effortlessly, the agility and strength needed for acrobatics and movements seen throughout the show took time to develop.
“It took me like a year to do something because, well, you take a lot of stretching and conditioning, work out and everything,” said Hungarian acrobat Lorant Markocsany. “Also, the technical stuff needs some time so you understand and then to be able to (make) your brain tell your body what you have to do and how, so this takes time also.”
Markocsany’s part in Dralion included the aerial pas de Deux act with Azala, the goddess of air.
The aerial pas de Deux is an aerial dance in which the couple is intertwined in bands of cloth and flies over the stage.
In this performance, Azala dropped from the ceiling wrapped in blue silk cloth and she and her partner flew while doing acrobatics with the bands being the only things to hold onto.
They twisted themselves in a sensual dance before she was pulled back up to her place above the stage.
“My favorite part was the couple with the material bands,” said Susan Remrck, audience member. “That was the best. They’re very talented, you had to be so strong, so fit to be able to do what
Gaya, representing earth, was adorned in a tribal-like costume with a brown grass skirt. She danced across the stage in stomping motions, while performers dressed to look like painted interpretations of Gaya mimicked her movements.
Later, hoop-diving was done by symbolic figures of the earth. They jumped through golden hoops that were sometimes stacked four high.
Some of the acrobats, after landing, let the momentum carry them into flips. They even threw each other through the hoops, landing safely on the other side.
A cast of three French-speaking clowns made repetitive appearances throughout the show and even dragged a man onstage (who later turned out to be an actor) to perform different humorous acts with them.
These skits included mimicry of sounds and movements.
They also went through the audience taping people to chairs and washing bald men’s heads with rags, enticing laughter from the audience.
Additionally, these clowns impersonated different elements and gallivanted around the stage until the real elements
The aerial hoop was given the element of fire because of the vigorous performance.
A woman wove her body in, out and around the hoop, which flew through the air.
At one point, the only thing holding her up was her flexed foot dangling her from the hoop.
The hoop acrobatics requires great strength and flexibility in order to not fall.
The very last act was skipping ropes. Up to three ropes were used as performers jumped, flipped, cartwheeled and did handstands.
Acrobats even formed a pyramid and jumped rope while standing on each other’s shoulders.
“Wonderful, amazing, a feast for the eyes, I didn’t know where to look sometimes,” said Betty Baker, audience member. “I think the people with the trampoline and going up the walls was fascinating. It was wonderful.”