Cirque Hits UK with Dralion & Saltimbanco in JanDate: 21 December 2004
Cirque du Soleil will make a two-pronged attack on the UK next month. The award-winning Canadian circus company will return, for the ninth year running, to London’s Royal Albert Hall with Dralion (from 6 January to 6 February 2005), while its other hit show Salimbanco visits Manchester (from 6 January to 13 February) and Birmingham (24 February to 13 March).
Dralion, which had its European premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in January 2004 (See News, 5 Jan 2004), is performed by a company of more than 55 artists from ten countries. Amongst the dare-devil and highly skilled acts on offer are: hoop diving, teeterboard, double trapeze, aerial pas de deux, single handbalancing, bamboo poles, juggling, the aerial hop and ballet on lights as well as a variety of other clowns, acrobats and dancers.
Billed as a fusion of ancient Chinese circus tradition and the avant-garde approach of Cirque du Soleil, the show's name is a combination of dragon (representing the East) and the lion (the West). According to marketing material, it derives much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophy with its perpetual quest for harmony between humankind and nature.
Conceived as an antidote to the violence and despair of the 20th century, Saltimbanco, seen at the Albert Hall in 2002, is billed as a "celebration of life", offering up a new vision of urban living, full of optimism and joy, kaleidoscopically conveyed through voice, movement and music. Its acts include: bungee, Chinese poles, Russian swing, trapeze, double wire, diabolo and adagio.
Cirque du Soleil was established in Quebec in 1984 by a troupe of street performers. Since then, it has grown to employ over 2,500 people (a quarter of them performers) presenting nine shows across four continents, including three residencies in Las Vegas and one at Walt Disney World, Florida. To date, the company has sold nearly 40 million tickets for its shows, which blend traditional circus skills with street entertainment and big-budget effects.
At one point, the company had plans to build a permanent London home on the site of the derelict Battersea Power Station, where they've previously played to capacity crowds in their "Grand Chapiteau" big top. The Battersea plans were abandoned in December 2001. More recently, they have been named in connection with planned redevelopment of Leicester Square (See The Goss, 24 Mar 2003).
In the meantime, the January visit to the Royal Albert Hall has become such a fixture that, say Cirque’s spokespeople, it is “now all but formally established as the company’s yearly London residence”.
- by Terri Paddock