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Cirque du Soleil returns to southern Alberta

Posted on December 16, 2014 by Sunny South News

For the uninitiated, Cirque du Soleil Dralion fuses the 3,000 year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the highly-popular Canadian troupe of gravity-defying performing artists.

“Dralion blends Chinese traditions and acrobatics. It’s a show with a lot of energy. People can expect a lot of energy on stage, very outstanding acrobatics and very unique acrobatic numbers that can only be seen in Dralion, which features Eastern traditions and acrobatics but it’s also mixed with a little more acrobatic numbers like the trampoline wall — that actually incorporates five artists and literally they’re all defying gravity,” said Julie Desmarais, from Dralion. The show’s name is derived from its two emblematic creatures: the dragon, symbolizing the East and the lion, symbolizing the West. Cirque du Soleil Dralion can be seen during seven performances between Dec. 17-21 at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge.

Dralion is nearing its final run of the show after 15 years of travelling around the world. The show wraps up in Anchorage, Alaska in January 2015.

Serge Maheux, a drummer for the Dralion production has been a touring musician with Cirque du Soleil for many years, as he began playing drums at the age of eight — with a life-long desire to perform with the celebrated Cirque du Soleil.

“As a musician, in general for Cirque, I wanted that since I was 19, so for 20 years. I wanted this for a while but I got it later. Life in Cirque, as a musician, I couldn’t have played that much back home it was impossible,” said the drummer, adding in Montreal he maybe would have played professionally one or two shows a week.

“For me, it’s fantastic to be playing almost every day and twice a day sometimes,” he noted. Maheux, over the years, has played rock, pop, country, fusion and jazz.

Since 2006, Maheux has been performing with Cirque du Soleil as a drummer. He started out with Cirque’s Saltimbanco and spent six years touring around the world.

Maheux said musically, the show features six musicians and two singers and the ensemble offers audiences a variety of musical influences.

“Sometimes rock and sometimes pop on top of it. A mix of rock pop drumming on top of East melody I would say,” said Maheux.

According to Desmarais, Dralion incorporates 100 people in the show.

“The cast — including musicians and singers and clowns is 52 performers from 17 different nationalities. Half of the cast is from China. We also have performers from Canada, the United States, Russia, Australia, Argentina and so on,” said Desmarais, adding Dralion also has a team of 25 technicians, among the 100 people involved in the production. The technicians, Desmarais said, are responsible for unloading the stage and building the stage each and every week, prior to a performance.

“In every city we’ll go we travel with 18 semi-trucks. We have over 360,000 pounds of equipment that is placed and loaded in the arena every week, which takes about 12 hours. We’ll use about 80 local stage hands to help us during the process,” she explained.

Desmarais said when Cirque du Soleil puts on a brand new show — it’s a process two years in the making, including Dralion.

“We’ve been on the road for 15 years. Dralion started its life as a Big Top show for 11 years around the world before being re-staged for the arena. The arena process, the re-staging, took about nine months before we premiered in 2007,” she said.

Typically, Desmarais said, the featured artists will have Mondays and Tuesdays off during the tour and will arrive on the Wednesday in each city on the tour to prepare for the week’s production. “We’ll be arriving from Regina to Lethbridge. For the musicians, for example, they’ll have an extended sound check on Wednesday and each acrobat or each performer will have some training on stage, as well.”

When Dralion has its final curtain call early next year, Maheux said he plans on touring with Cirque du Soleil again.

“When I finished with Saltimbanco I was on a will call for another show and I got Dralion and I’m hoping to have another one,” he noted.

Desmarais said Dralion is a great show for the whole family. “Before the holidays, there’s a lot of energy and very appealing to everybody, so we’re looking forward to see everyone at the Enmax Centre,” she added.

Showtimes are: Dec. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 20 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 21 at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are available to purchase online at http://www.enmaxcentre.ca.

Adults from $35 to $120, children from $28 to $103 and military, seniors and students from $31.50 to $76.50.

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