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Cirque du Soleils Multiculti Universe (photo gallery)

Published: January 29, 2014 (Issue # 1795)



  • Dralion features an international cast, including a St. Petersburg native.
    Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil

  • Contortionists.
    Photo: Daniel Desmarais / Cirque du Soleil

  • Hoop performers.
    Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Mark Delong / Cirque du Soleil


  • Photo: Daniel Demarais / Cirque du Soleil

  • Little Buddha.
    Photo: Mark Delong / Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil is back in St. Petersburg with an arena show titled Dralion. Opening on Jan. 22, the extravagant show has proven popular with local audiences, easily filling the Ice Palace arena, which has become the troupes home when visiting the city.

The title of the show is a portmanteau of the two emblematic creatures whose images run throughout the performance: The dragon, symbolizing the East, and the lion, symbolizing the West. A slightly promiscuous blend of influences, Dralion combines the 3,000-year old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil but nonetheless offers enough thematically-linked elements to bring the various influences together.

When Dralion was created almost 15 years ago, Cirque du Soleil had wanted to find a way of combining ancient Chinese circus traditions with their contemporary approach and Dralion was the result of that, Mark Shaub, the shows artistic director, told the St. Petersburg Times. When you see the entire show there are a lot of other acts the clowns are definitely not Chinese so its a real melding of the different influences.

As with almost all Cirque productions, the evening begins long before most of the audience have found their seats with a trio of roving clowns causing general mayhem, drawing audience members into the world of the performers.

The show proper starts when a character known as Little Buddha, who acts as a timekeeper, sets the first act in motion.

Drawing inspiration from Eastern philosophy and the quest for harmony between man and nature, Dralion gives human form to the four elements Air, Water, Fire and Earth each of which are identified with a different part of the globe. Each act is overseen by one of the elements whose origin is revealed through costume and music.

The music is really from all over the world. There are influences of Arabic music, Spanish music we do a lot of world music blends. Certainly there is a big element of Asia and particularly Chinese traditions, but it really blends together, said Shaub.

Directed by Guy Caron, who was Cirque du Soleils first artistic director when the company was created in 1984, the show has been seen by more than 7 million people worldwide since it premiered in 1999. The St. Petersburg run is the Russian premiere of the show, which will be followed by performances in Chelyabinsk, Kazan and Moscow before heading to Minsk.

The show features 50 international acrobats, gymnasts, musicians and singers, several of whom are Russian, including a St. Petersburg native.

While parts of the Dralion mythology feel somewhat dated, it is nonetheless a spectacular display of prowess on the part of the performers one that is often as breathtaking in the quieter moments as it is during the big production numbers. With the Russian love and knowledge of circus traditions, Cirque seems to have managed to create quite a few converts to its worldview.

Daily performances of Dralion run through Feb. 2, with matinees on the weekend, at the Ice Palace, 1aProspekt Pyatiletok. M. Prospekt Bolshevikov. Tel. 718 6620.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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