Inspired by the history of the Kazakh nomadic culture, REFLEKT is a mysterious
tale that explores the idea of renewable human energy as we journey towards a
sustainable future.Journey alongside Arman (Arman means "a dream" in Kazakh), an
archeologist and hopeful dreamer as he discovers the wonders of the seven elements
of life in Kazakh culture: Joy, Success, Wisdom, Well-being, Speed, Height and
Growth, and Divine Protection.This role is based on the image of the Golden Man.
Tradition is re-imagined with a future-forward twist. Cultural sounds merge with
explosive electro beats. Futuristic architecture and ancient details adorn the stage.
Ceremonial dance flows with contemporary choreography. Striking projection, lasers
and light sculptures evoke earth elements. It's an entirely innovative exploration
and story of past and present that ultimately illuminates self-reflection: How will
we use our energy and power to support a sustainable future?
REFLEKT showcases traditional circus acts mixed with never-before seen executions
at Cirque du Soleil, delivering awe-inspiring acrobatic acts that always leave the
spectator wanting more and with an emotionally-packed experience that will last a
|Premiere: ||June 16, 2017
|Type: ||Theater Show
|Location: ||Expo 2017: Astana
|Finale: ||September 10, 2017
|Status: ||Special Event
[ Background |
Kazakh Symbolism |
Setting the Scene |
| Creative Team |
Picture Gallery ]
When we think of sustainable energy, solar panels and wind turbines may immediately
spring to mind. But body-charged energy, in the form of movement, can also power us
into the future — both through technological advances and sheer human inspiration.
Cirque du Soleil is spotlighting the latter form of kinetic fuel in REFLEKT — its
exclusive production for Astana Expo 2017, with approximately 70 shows in all.
Beneath a 2,000-person capacity tent, 38 artists brought the ‘Future Energy' theme
to life in what REFLEKT director Fernand Rainville dubs a show that is "very strong
acrobatically," with a concept that is based on the idea of the past and the present
creating the future.
Rather than address the expo's green theme in a clinical, scientific way, he has
embraced something central to all Cirque du Soleil productions:movement. "I brought
everything down to human energy, trying to build on what the future can be — the
energy of youth and the energy of physical performance," he says. In one high-voltage
number, a crew of nine young dancers performs with Segways. "Future energy is also
how we take care of our kids," he adds.
In REFLEKT, the audience is ushered down the symbolic rabbit hole by the comedic
lead character, Arman (played by Jonathan Maureen), a head-in-the-clouds archeologist.
He explores seven elements of Kazakhstani culture — joy, wisdom, success, well-being,
height and growth, speed and divine protection — as he navigates the Central Asian
republic's past, present and future. Kazakhstani cultural contributions — from yurts
to domesticated horses — are a driving force behind this one hour and 15 minute
He was also passionate about the country's distinction of being the first to
domesticate horses, thousands of years ago. While animals are famously not part of
the troupe's fresh and modern take on the circus tradition, Rainville found a way to
include this important piece of Kazakh Steppe history — and to marry this with the
future energy theme. "I thought: what are the horses of today?" he asks rhetorically.
His answer: ‘horse power.' "I'm incorporating something we've never had at Cirque
yet: an electric motor bike," says Rainville of the vehicle, which has been modified
for tricks and stunt riding. Beyond electric motorcycles, he and his talented team
also found a way to highlight solar photovoltaic energy while retaining the creative
spirit of the colorful production.
In REFLEKT, Helia, the sun — itself an element of the Kazakhstan flag — emits
‘rays' on stage via patterns and imagery fashioned by lighting designer Nicolas
Brion. (There are 32 rays on the Kazakhstan flag, representing the 32 tribes that
formed the nation.) Another graphic on the national flag, Samruk the eagle-like bird
of Kazakh legend — which lays its egg in the tree of life — appropriately features
in the show's aerial acts. One of the symbols of Kazakhstan after the independence
is the so-called Golden Man, discovered in 1969 by archeologists in the Almaty
region — dressed richly in red and gold. Rainville explains that while the production
sheds light on such cultural influences, in true Cirque style, it does not do so with
the goal of accurate reproduction. "Our inspiration is traditional but we haven't
redone on stage the traditional costumes," he says of the some 300 wardrobe pieces
made of custom-printed materials, designed by James Lavoie.
The Eurasian country's historical imprint on REFLEKT is miles away from being
"something you would see in a museum," or a documentary-style showcase, he stresses.
In one example, Rainville cites a pair of Mongolian contortionists whose hair is
adorned with a unique take on classic braiding. "It's very hard to describe. It all
of the sudden becomes like a sculpture." Likewise, the production's sprawling
soundtrack — performed by five live musicians and a singer — features indigenous
instruments like the two-string dombra, while updating ancient sounds and arrangements.
"It feels very much today. Then, at times, it goes into a very lyrical and epic feel,
where the music takes you to the Kazakhstani Steppe on horseback," he notes.
In terms of setting the scene, one particular feature of REFLEKT is a Cirque first:
a bi-frontal runway stage. (The way from the past to the future is represented by two
exits on the stage: the left side is an extensive panorama of a futuristic city while
the right side is an open space where light installations represent the energy of
the Sun.) This design conveys the feeling of movement through travel — a signature
of the nomadic Kazakh people. "That's going to be very exciting because it brings a
lot of intimacy into a room where you have the spectators placed on both sides,"
says the director, "That makes them very close to the act."
Architecture on a grander scale also figures in the theatrical tableau. Rainville
sees such building design as emblematic of the capital city today and accordingly
mentions the Pyramid of Peace by Norman Foster. "There's some very monumental about
architecture in Astana. I wanted to refer to that in the way we start the show off."
Ultimately, the performance is a reflection of Kazakhstan's past, present and future
identity, as implied by the title REFLEKT. Part of the creative process, according
to the director, was to let go of preconceived ideas about Kazakhstani culture and
to reintroduce it in the 21st century. Rainville concludes: "I hope that the Kazakh
people feel that we've done something specifically that references who they are and
that they feel that we are opening them up towards the future."
- Director — Fernand Rainville
- Assistant Director — Sonya St-Martin
- Technical Director — Eric Gallant
- Composer — Simon Carpentier
- Lighting Designer — Nicolas Brion (NOVELTY)
- Video Design — Adam Hummell & Shadi Assadi (NOVELTY)
- Sound Design — (NOVELTY)
- Costume Designer — James Lavoie
- Aerial Straps — Suren Bozyan and KarynaKonchakivska
- Fire — Choreographed by Tuione (Onč) Tovo
- Duo Trapeze — Duo Transcend (Mary &Tyce)
- Crossed Wheel(“Zen”) — Jonathan Morin
- Contortion — Erdenesuvd and Buyankhishig Ganbaatar
- Trampoline Wall — The Catwall Acrobats
- Russian Swing — The Catwall Acrobats
- Wheel of Death — Carlos Marín
- Segway/Hoverboard Dance — n/a
- Bar w/Motorbike — Jean-Francois Fabere (Bike), Marco Dieckmann (Bar)
- Singer — Anna Liani
- Violinist — Sébastien Savard