The World of Dralion

Cirque du Soleil will be returning to Phoenix on November 28th with its vibrant production of DRALION, a fusion of ancient Chinese acrobatic arts with the multi-disciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil. The show’s story was inspired by Eastern philosophy’s never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature. The name, DRALION, is based on the dragon, symbolizing the East, and the lion, symbolizing the West.

Four ruling elements take on human form, and are represented by their signature colors…air is blue, water is green, fire is red, and earth is ochre. In the world of DRALION, Man and Nature become one and balance is achieved.

Pairing the 3,000 year old tradition of Chinese acrobatics with art, music, dance, drama, and humor, accentuated by the costumes and makeup, the beautiful story comes to life.  Making it all happen requires the talents and precision of 50 international acrobats, gymnasts, musicians and singers.

The influences for the incredible costumes came from China, India and Africa, while the fabrics (over 16,000 feet) came from various regions around the world. They consist of materials as unusual as horse hair, raffia, metal, window screen, emu feathers, crystals, styrofoam, bubble wrap, fun fur, springs, and various hardware items.  Created in the Cirque du Soleil workshop in Montreal, it took their artisans over three months to fabricate the original pieces including hats, wigs and footwear… a total approximately 1500 pieces.

Costume Designer Francois Barbeau

The genius behind this artistry is Emmy Award winner, Francois Barbeau. A native of Montreal, costume designer, director, and teacher, Mr. Barbeau is one of the most respected stage artisans in Canada. He joined Cirque du Soleil in 1998 to work on DRALION and earned the Emmy for “Outstanding Costumes for a Variety or Music Program” in 2001.  Mr. Barbeau has also designed costumes for hundreds of plays, ballets and operas in Canada, the United States, France, Switzerland, Israel, and Belgium.

Of course, the costumes aren’t complete without the complementary make-up, which make the characters come to life. As always, the make-up is art itself.

Did you ever wonder who works for Cirque du Soleil? Here are a few bet-you-didn’t-knows:

  • In 1984, only 73 people worked for Cirque du Soleil. Today they have 5,000 employees worldwide, including 1,300 artists.
  • At the Montreal International Headquarters there are close to 2,000 employees.
  • More than 100 occupations can be found at Cirque du Soleil.
  • The average age of employees is 37.
  • The company’s employees and artists represent close to 50 nationalities and speak 25 languages.
  • More than 100 million spectators have seen a Cirque du Soleil show since 1984.
  • Close to 15 million people will see a Cirque du Soleil show in 2012.
  • Cirque du Soleil hasn’t received any grants from the public or private sectors since 1992.

DRALION will be running November 28th through December 2nd at the US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Tickets are available online, click on the tickets and info link. Tickets start at $40, though there are discounts available for students, seniors and members of the military.  For directions, or other information about the US Airways Center, check out their website.

Article by Liz Riley for Phoenix Fashion Week.  Photos by Cirque du Soleil.

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