Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion blends east and west

Production opens eight-show run in Victoria tomorrow (June 22)

A cast member of Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion balances on one hand during a scene from the show. Dralion opens in Victoria tomorrow (June 22).

A cast member of Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion balances on one hand during a scene from the show. Dralion opens in Victoria tomorrow (June 22).

For those on the fence about Cirque du Soleil, Dralion might be the right show to check out.

The appeal of the latest production to visit Victoria is wider than ever, says the company’s artistic director, Sean McKeown. “I tested it on a colleague’s son who’s two and he loved the show and a grandfather who’s 89 loved the show. I think there’s a very broad appeal.”

Dralions, mythical beasts named for the dragon and the lion, symbolize the forces of East and West. Drawing heavily on Chinese traditions and influences, the show delivers a message of harmony across cultures through acrobatics, songs, dance and clowns.

A defining element of this show, compared to Cirque du Soleil productions in the past, are its elite trampolinists. World-class athletes perform feats even McKeown hasn’t yet gotten used to watching, despite two-hour daily training sessions and nightly performances.

“The guys that are on the trampoline have spent most of their lives to get to the level they’re at,” he said. “Part of our set is a 25-foot wall, and they’re doing (jumps) off the top of that wall onto the trampoline. It’s quite crazy.”

The 52-member cast of Dralion features 23 acrobats, performing to world beats supplied live by seven musicians. The acrobatic elements are matched by some very beautiful, poetic moments in the show, McKeown said.

“When we set out to do a new show, we always try to recreate ourselves so every show is very different from the others … We cover the air and the ground very well.”

Dralion has been performed for more than seven million people since it debuted in Montreal in 1999. It comes to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre for eight performances, starting tonight (June 22) and running through Sunday (June 26). Tickets are available by calling 250-220-7777, stopping by the arena box office or visiting www.cirquedusoleil.com/dralion.

nnorth@saanichnews.com