Dralion Cirque du Soleil show mixes Eastern and Western cultures

If you go

What: Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, next Thursday and Nov. 12; 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13; and 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 14

Where: Covelli Centre, Youngstown

Tickets: Ticketmaster or the Covelli box office



East meets West in Dralion, the Cirque du Soleil show coming to Covelli Centre next week.

“It’s a fusion of Chinese acrobats’ ancient arts with the avant garde feel of Cirque du Soleil,” said Alison Crawford, artistic director of the show.

The name is a combination of “dragon” and “lion,” the symbols of Eastern and Western culture.

Like all Cirque shows (there are about 20 playing all around the globe), Dralion is a visual flight of fancy, loosely tied together with a background that serves as a story line.

“It’s a harmony of four elements — earth, air, fire and water,” said Crawford. Each “family” does a performance, and an empress and emperor oversees all.

“It is about working together,” she continued. “Sometimes there is conflict, but in the circle of life they come together.”

She described the show as very energetic. “It’s a feel-good show with great visuals and eclectic music,” said Crawford. “You will walk out with a sense of joy and elation. The way the acrobats show passion and joy, you will want to become one.”

Dralion is performed on a stage that juts into the audience, with seating on three sides. A six-person band with two singers provides music for the show, which is 2 hours and 20 minutes, including an intermission.

Crawford described the final act, a show-closing extravaganza, as “grandiose.”

Dralion has been around for 11 years. It started as a big-top show in Montreal but was recently retrofitted as a traveling- arena show that is now touring the United States and Canada. More than 7 million people worldwide have seen it since its 1999 premiere.

Though the entertainers travel by plane, a convoy of 17 tractor-trailers carries the set.

It features an international cast of 50, including acrobats, gymnasts, musicians and singers. Entertainers wear elaborate costumes and makeup. “It takes two and a half hours for [the entertainer who plays] Water to get into makeup,” said Crawford.

The acrobatic acts include aerial hoop and pas-de-deux, which utilizes a long length of fabric; the stunning bamboo poles, in which six men balance on a long, decorative pole while performing acrobatic feats; hand balancing and hoop diving; juggling, skipping ropes; a daring trampoline act in which acrobats perch on a wall; and more.

The stage itself is dominated by a 60-foot-wide by 26-foot-high backdrop that is suggestive of a futuristic Chinese temple or a giant plate of medieval armor. Six giant claws jut out from the top of the structure, allowing the artists to climb and suspend themselves from the wall.

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