The traditions of Chinese acrobatics where the art was first cultivated have influenced everything from dance to circus arts for more than 3,000 years. That idea sparked the creation of Dralion, one of the more than 20 touring shows produced by Cirque du Soleil, a virtual empire of creativity and innovation.
In this show, those awe-inspiring ancient feats are just the beginning, says Sean McKeown, the shows artistic director who travels with the more than 50 performing artists, including acrobats, aerialists, clowns and musicians, and crew from 17 different countries.
In Dralion they are fused with contemporary circus and theatrical arts for an exciting and new type of entertainment experience.
We like to reinvent ourselves with each show that comes out and bring something new with it that pushes the envelope a bit, McKeown said from Minneapolis, where the show played a few weeks ago.
Dralion will roll into Boise next week in 18 semi-trailers filled with seeming magic wildly colorful costumes, aerial hoops and silks, a wall-sized trampoline, the awesome crossed wheel (pictured on the cover), lights, and other technical aspects of the artistry to load into the Taco Bell Arena for seven shows next weekend.
A new type of entertainment experience pretty much defines any Cirque show, McKeown says.
Each show creates a specialized world, often with its own icons, myths and language.
In Dralion, Asian and Western traditions of acrobatics and circus arts represent a world seeking balance and harmony between humans and nature.
We have a lot of big wow numbers, like the trampoline wall, and along side we have these very poetic, solo or duo numbers, some clowns and dance mixed in there, too. So its not really any one thing.
The story is told through the four elements earth, water, fire and air and each is represented by a tribe and color ochre, blue, red and green on stage.
And there are other forces at work.
The musicians and singers represent a controlling force that keeps things in balance, as does the Little Buddha, who represents the forces of the gods. She can create both order and disorder.
She likes to stir things up, McKeown says.
The title Dralion refers to mythical creatures that are half dragon and half lion.
This show has been running since 1999, first under Cirques signature blue and yellow big top, and since 2010 in arenas.
And through all that time, the daring and amazing acts have been changing and updating their tricks, under McKeowns watchful eye.
The artists themselves often innovate on their apparatuses like the crossed wheel ridden by Kala. Then they work with McKeown to integrate it into the narrative of the show. The wheel represents time and the ongoing cycle of life. Kala is the internal propulsion of the wheel that makes time evolve.
There are so many acts that no one performs every show. Much of the physical work is too demanding to do in back-to-back shows in one day. This company will perform seven shows in four days.
One of the biggest acts is the trampoline wall on which a daring company of tumblers and acrobats defy the laws of gravity. The tram is both the diving board and landing pad.
This dynamic act has been with the show since 2005 and has evolved over the years adopting the latest in acrobatic techniques and ideas.
There are other trampo-walls around but theyre nothing like ours, McKeown says.