Cirque du Soleil is known for their high flying acrobatics and eye popping performances. There is one rule to follow when you see a Cirque show, it is crucial to be sure you position yourself so you can the theater from all angles; you truly never know where the action is going to take place. Kicking off Thursday June 20th through Sunday June 23rd, Cirque du Soleil’s stunning new production CRYSTAL is coming to the Philadelphia area, and will be bringing an entirely new concept to the fans of these astoundingly acrobatic events.
I sat down with Creative Director of CRYSTAL Fabrice Lemire about this brand new concept for Cirque, how the idea took shape, and how these dazzling performers had to learn to adapt to on/off ice to everything from acrobatics to aerial stunts and everything in between! Lemire let me in on the whole concept of CRYSTAL as a whole, how the idea was created, and how the performers had to adapt to on-ice, off-ice, and above ice artistry on skates! Figure skaters had to learn acrobatics & aerial stunts, circus artists had to learn how to skate on ice, and extreme skaters had to learn figure skating moves!
MC: So what does your role as Creative Director for CRYSTAL entail?
FL: What I like about my role during this production is maintaining the essence and the integrity of what the show is, while giving a voice to the performers who are coming down the line, to give them an example. CRYSTAL was created with one specific cast. Today, currently we have a rotation of four girls that portray Crystal. As a director, I see four interpretations of that role. I don’t want to see the same thing night after night. They each deliver their own trueness the way that they portray Crystal. I find it amazing, as they connect with each other and look at each other performing night after night. If someone drifts away, its my job to bring them back and show them the direction I think they should go. The beauty of the creative performances is what I call a “living organist” and it continues to breathe, night after night. It’s all about capturing the moment; like in a museum. That is why this is not just a circus; it’s a living art. There is a heartbeat behind it, every night the performers go on stage with the mindset to deliver the strongest show. The surprise of the moment is seeing CRYSTAL from night to night.
MC: What do you think your favorite part of the show is, without giving away too much?
FL: There are fantastic acrobatic numbers throughout the show. There is a closing number of Act 1, it is a hockey game with speedskaters that is incredible. For me, there is a moment that touches me literally every single night. it is at the very beginning of the show when Crystal all alone, runs away. She slams the door, runs down the stairs and runs away. This truly defines what that CRYSTAL is all about. You see her running down the stairs, running on the floor and suddenly she starts to glide. Only then do you realize that she is actually on skates. This is what the show is about. You start with someone sprinting like an acrobat, and then in one moment you realize that she has boots and blades on and was running. It is such a metaphorical moment. The marriage of two different things that came together for the show and this is the very first character you see. it is touching what the company has done with this show.
MC: What gives you the most Pride as a creative force?
FL: I think that on the whole, there are many things. One thing that really touches me is when a performer or someone that I have worked with contacts me years later. When they ask me about a certain situation, which may have been difficult or challenging that we dealt with together at that time. To come back years later and say that they thought about the situation, is amazing. The chapter is unfinished and I find it rewarding when we can finish those chapters, My work may touch people differently and for some people, it may bother them. Sometimes things don’t mesh and you cannot please everyone, but you try.
As an Artistic Director, I make sure that I am giving the same support and the same open heart equally. However, some of those kids may feel that they don’t associate with how I work. When one of those performers can come back to me and say “I got it” that is rewarding and it was worth it. That is part of my own rewarding process. It also ties together what CRYSTAL is all about. She run away, does what she does, and then is coming back home with a different mindset. That is what those performers do. As long as these performers can see through the same lens as I do eventually and accept my style for what I can offer them at that moment. There is something beautiful about closing chapters in the right state of mind so you are able to move onto the next chapter.
(All Art Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil)