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Hand Balancing
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Pas De Deux
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Solo Aerial Silk
Duo Trapeze
Ballet on Lights
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Set & Stage
    "In this show, we were very preoccupied with the mechanical invading the organic and soulful. The set itself is a kind of giant insect, a biomechanical construct in which all the characters in the show live. The idea is to set up a tension between the two: how do you resolve it? — Stéphane Roy, Set Designer

Roy says his design was inspired in part by see-through contemporary Japanese architecture, in which a building's mechanical guts are exposed, revealing what he calls the melodic structure. "With Japanese architecture, you walk in and ... you see the elevators, the cables, you see everything, the air conditioning, the tubes, everything," Roy says. "It's like taking off the skin of an arm, and you see everything - how it works, why. It looks high-tech, but in fact the response is low-tech. It's human all the way." The challenge with "Dralion," Roy says, was creating something fantastic and mysterious while letting audiences glimpse the reality behind the illusion. "The art of the circus is to see," he stresses, "and it's something fantastic to see how it's being done. It's not a magical trick inside a theater where you don't see anything, you don't know how that person flies. It's the magic of knowing at the same time - being surprised, but knowing how it's being done."

Thus, guided by the desire to pay homage to the structure of the human body, Stéphane Roy set himself a challenge on creating the show’s set and stage: to devise a concept in which each set element was an essential part of a whole. "Cirque depends a great deal on the mechanical to perform successfully. But here, it's very much as Da Vinci presented machines in his drawings: the machine as an extension of the human, always. You can't remove the soul from the machine." From start to finish, it took six months of intensive conceptual work, four months of construction and two months of fine-tuning to produce an immense technological structure that also doubles as an acrobatic prop. Given the structure’s uniqueness and complexity, setting it up under the Big Top took approximately 50 specialized technicians about 50 hours to complete.

  • THE STAGE — The floor is over 12.7 m (41.67 feet) in diameter (larger than any Cirque du Soleil stage before it). It is covered with Taraflex, a surface material designed to absorb shock and which is a key factor in preventing artist injuries. Shapes painted onto the floor are meant to echo the technical rings located over the stage. Strategically positioned around the stage are about 10 trap doors used both for artistic purposes—performers can use them to appear or disappear—and for technical purposes, during acts such as the double trapeze.

  • THE SUN AND ITS COMPONENTS — Three aluminum rings, each performing its own unique function, hang a little over 13 m (42.65 feet) above the stage. The first is simply called the grid. It supports the technical ring while serving as a catwalk for performers waiting to make their entrance and as a work area for riggers. At just over 11 m (36 feet) in diameter, the second and largest ring is referred to as the technical ring. It is used to hang various projectors and hold up an enormous lantern. The third and final ring, dubbed “the Sun”, is the acrobatic element of the set. Measuring 6.5 m (21.32 feet) in diameter, it can be moved up and down, rotated, and placed at different angles. The entire rig weighs about nine tons.

  • THE METALLIC WALL AND ITS CLAWS — At 8 m (26.25 feet) high and 18 m (59 feet) wide, the metallic wall resembles an immense coat of mail. The wall is semi-transparent and covered with perforated aluminum. Serving as both an orchestra pit and the wings of the stage, the wall supports technical elements (the claws), technicians and artists, whether they are suspended, attached to or climbing the wall. Made of steel and aluminum, the claws are a little over 5 m (16.4 feet) long and are attached to the wall 7 m (23 feet) above the stage. Together this griffe wall weighs 18 tons.

"At first, Caron and Laliberte conceived Dralion as a piece dealing with the interplay between Oriental and Occidental sensibilities. That idea was scrapped in favor of a story line about the blending together of four different color-coded families, each representing one of the four primeval elements: earth, air, fire and water. As the show evolves, the four families exchange members and gradually fuse together. The impression you get at the end of the show is, we start with four families, and at the end it's one family - and that's the story of the world," says designer Roy.

Cirque Corner