Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crystal Circus Cirque Du Soleil Picks Up Speed with New Ice Show

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crystal Circus Cirque Du Soleil Picks Up Speed with New Ice Show

Article excerpt

Cirque du Soleil is always looking for new worlds to conquer. So, it was only natural that the entertainment giant that has offered everything from a Beatles-themed Las Vegas show to an "Avatar"-inspired extravaganza should take to the ice.

Cirque's arena-sized spectacle is "Crystal," a version of what we've come to expect from the Canadian company. Bringing together the acrobatic and skating worlds has added elements of speed and danger, even for a company that incorporates high-flying aerialists and BMX riders into performances.

"You go by what you are known for and what your are strong at, which is the acrobatic aspect of your show, the marriage between live music and artistry," said Fabrice Lemire, the ballet dancer and choreographer-turned-artistic director for touring Cirque shows. "Then we brought the element of the ice skating world into our world, and I love what I see."

"Crystal" makes its Pittsburgh debut at PPG Paints Arena starting Jan. 17, with eight shows in five days - a Friday matinee was added because of brisk ticket sales.

One element that lends itself to a Cirque spectacle is the ability to have projections on ice, a sight known to hockey fans who have attended pregame festivities at NHL playoff games.

"The ice also is offering us the notion of speed we didn't have in the past," Mr. Lemire said. "There are some fantastic formations evolving in front of us by ensembles. It's gorgeous, and we didn't have that ability on the normal stage floor for a more traditional circus show."

"Crystal" also offers slippery new challenges, from recruiting performers with adaptable skills to the shoes and gloves worn on the ice by nonskaters. The company's costume and prop department created its own version of hand-and-foot grips that allow an acrobat to do handstands or tumbles without slipping or creating divots.

The search for performers with particular skill sets took the casting department to places it had never been. " 'Acrobat' is a very big word," is how Mr. Lemire put it. For "Crystal," it can mean the ability to excel on blades and, in some case, wheels. Some performers come from the competitive skating world, and others "are the kids on skateboards you might see at a city park," Mr. …

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