Cirque du Soleil makes its inaugural stop in Red Deer, debuting Crystal — their first ever show on-ice.
“They’ve never tackled the element of the ice before, this is a brand new show for them and a brand new surface,” said Shawn Sawyer, Canadian figure skater.
Cirque du Soleil organizers have been interested in creating a show on ice for several years, according to the show’s publicist Julie Desmarais, but they have been waiting for the opportunity to get all the experts in figure skating and acrobatics together to collaborate on the production.
Bringing the two art forms together posed a many challenges, but Cirque has done it again marrying the unusual pair so seamlessly the combination looks intuitive.
“They obviously expect to see the ice, but I don’t think they expect how well we blend the ice skating and the acrobatics — we are performing as one unit, not as skating (on one hand) and acrobats (on the other),” said Sawyer.
Everyone learned how to skate for the performance, even the jugglers and the figure skaters had to learn how to do aerial acrobatics. The performers all developed whole new muscles groups.
The end result makes it look easy, but the new surface posed a number of challenges for the team behind the production too.
The aerial acrobatics cannot safely be done wearing skates, so Cirque designers made special shoes with spikes for them to wear, so they don’t slip on the ice or cut themselves. Features like these shoes are constantly being tweaked as they go, adjusting to ensure the best result and safety.
Another challenge is adjusting for each venue, because this has never been done before and what is available for the aerial acrobatics system varies a lot with each venue.
All in all audiences are in for a treat, with the pre-show rehearsal featuring an acrobat gracefully spins from aerial ribbons, floating through the air effortlessly. He then swooped down and caught a skater with his toes, lifting her meters above the ice as if she were as light as a feather.
There are 40 artists in the cast of Crystal, representing eleven nationalities, with a few Canadians among them. Most of the cast is new to Cirque du Soleil.
Red Deer and Medicine Hat are the only two cities in Alberta included in this tour of Crystal. Red Deer is the 22nd city along the tour.