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Creative Team
Series Intro


Wind of Romance
Twin Winds
Howling Winds
Rockin Wind
Once Upon a Wind
Wind of Freedom
Ghostly Wind
Gone with
the Winds

Past Winds
Wind of

Wind of Life
Wind of Courage
Cosmic Wind



"Once Upon a Wind"

Episode 02: "Once Upon a Wind" (CBC, Canada)
Episode 05: "Adventure" (Bravo, USA)

Gaya and Quidam (from Dralion and Quidam respectively) spread the solar wind and give people the opportunity to free themselves from their daily routine. Some even acquire unnatural powers. Gaya blows solar wind in a boy's adventure storybook and life at home changes. The day begins as usual with the morning rush in the family kitchen as the young boy reads his storybook. He discovers and observes his mother flying through the air, his grandfather doing crazy things, a jungle explorer, an expert thief, and even a gorilla grabbing hold of a colonialist! The pages of his storybook come to life before his eyes. Suddenly, a wind blows the pages out of the kitchen window. They appear at his mother's job at the museum. Other pages land in his father's office and wreak havoc as the rigid boss struggles to maintain order to no avail. This brings great pleasure to Gaya and Quidam, not to mention those working at the office!

First Aired: December 7, 2003 (CBC)
May 9, 2004 (Bravo)

    Cirque du Soleil Artists

    • The Other Life of Gaya from Dralion -- Featured in the touring show Dralion, Gaya is goddess of Earth-warm, comforting, and rhythmic. Her tribal dance echoes the pulse of human life. Her beaming smile can melt the coldest hearts. Dralion is an unprecedented fusion of ancient Chinese acrobatic traditions and the avant-garde approach of Cirque du Soleil that pays homage to the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Gaya is played by Henriette Gbou.

    • Body2Body from Zumanity -- Acrobatic act combining still poses and feats of elevation and balance, performed by two or more artists. Performed by Sara Joel and Stephan Choinière.

    • Aeriel Silks from La Nouba -- Acrobat rolls and moves along length of two cloths suspended from ceiling. Also does circles above the stage, “flying” through the air. Performed by Ana Ginger Griep Ruiz.

    Guest Artists

    • Acrobatic Ball -- by Frédéric Barette
    • Aerial Straps -- by Igor Zaripov
    • Cosmic Ballet -- by Rodrigue "Chocolat" Tremblay and Nicolette Hazewinkel
    • Fire Manipulation (The Walkyries and Friends) -- by: Éliane Bonin, Charlyne Guay, Danielle Hubbard, Marie-Chantal Rivard and Maryse Thivierge
    • Hand-balancing on Canes -- by Dimitri Proudnikov
    • Hand-to-Hand -- by Nasko and Jordan Balaktchiev
    • Icariens Games (Les Castors) -- by Charly, Toly and Eddy Dedessus
    • Juggling -- by Steven Ragatz
    • Percussion (BAM) -- by: Jean-Sébastien Dallaire, Steve Burman and Denis Richard
    • Spanish Web -- by Jonathan Morin

    In this installment of Solstrom mad scientist/astronomer Fogus Punch (John Gilkey) tracks two solar wind characters (Gaya from Dralion and Quidam from Quidam) to a London library. The costuming and set dressing suggest that it is the 1930s or 40s. A boy is combing the shelves looking for a storybook. Gaya influences his decision by huffing solar wind onto a particular book which jumps out at the boy. It is an adventure/comic book filled with the stories of action heroes. The boy checks the book out and takes it home. The next morning Gaya emerges in the boy's family's kitchen and the solar wind blows apart the binding of the book so the magic infused pages fly out the window and disperse all over town. Those who pick up the pages fall under the solstrom's spell.

    While the first episode landed with a klunk due to some major artistic and pacing problems, the second episode hits the ground running and is able to build up some momentum. Overall this episode is a great improvement over the first. The quality of the individual acts is more consistent, the story arc, although still weak, is more cohesive and better developed. Even the music has improved. Though still overly reliant on synthesizers the original music, written by Sylvain Charles Grand and Dominique Grand, possesses a hint of the simple charm of the very early Dupéré compositions (circa Le Cirque Reinventé). The artistic presentation of the episode borrows from the themes of Quidam and Varekai though they aren't as effectively developed as in those shows. During the episode a family's ho-hum daily existence is transformed into a fantasy of adventure stories and action heroes.

    We begin in the family's home at breakfast. The parents busily prepare for work while the child flips through his storybook. Dad leaves to catch the bus while the child looks at a page with a drawing of a Wonder Woman-like comic book heroine. His mom, in the midst of folding a red towel, transforms in a flash into the heroine from the book and the towel becomes a long silk "cape" which she uses to perform a wonderful aerial silk act. Mom is played by Ginger Ana Griep Ruiz from La Nouba. Though only a supporting performer in the Aerial Ballet act in the live show, Solstrom gives this highly talented aerialist the opportunity to perform some high-calibre skills on the aerial tissue apparatus. Though similar acts have appeared in numerous Cirque du Soleil shows I couldn't help but marvel at the masterful skill possessed by this particular performer. She delivers one of the most dynamic performances of the series so far.

    After Mom has landed we check in with Dad who is waiting for the bus. A figure with a familiar "face", the headless Quidam, walks by and inspires one of the gentlemen at the bus stop to find delight in manipulating the light fixture from a nearby street lamp (actually a small blue ball). The man exhibits his dexterity as he rolls the ball across his body, bounces it on his head and his briefcase. He then adds more balls and starts to juggle. The "suitcase juggling" is performed by Steven Andrew Ragatz, a veteran Cirque performer who was part of the Manipulation trio seen in previous incarnations of Mystère and Quidam.

    We join Dad's co-workers dressed in suits and wearing bowler hats, either in homage to or directly copying the thematic elements of Quidam (which are inspired by the paintings of surrealist René Magritte), as they arrive for work at a large accounting office. The workers sit in a room with ranks of desks each with an old-fashioned manual adding machine on the corner. They settle in and synchronously work in a rhythmic choreography meant to symbolize the monotony and uniformity of the work-a-day world. Overseeing the workers is the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge-like boss, the cantankerous foible of this week's episode, played by Cirque alumnus Rodgrigue "Chocolat" Tremblay of Le Cirque Réinventé.

    As a page from the magic book sails in from a window a male and female employee simultaneously reach to pick it up. When they touch the sheet their business attire melts away into swanky leather garb, invoking images of John Steed and Emma Peel from the British television series the Avengers. Played by Sara Joel and Stephan Choinière the duo takes the concept of an office romance to dazzling new heights by performing a sizzling balancing/adagio act to a British spy film score. This performance is an adaptation of the Body2Body act the pair performs in Zumanity. In Solstrom, the performers are fully clothed and the sexually explicit choreography is toned down for a PG audience. Though not overtly sexual the act is still beautiful and sensually performed by this talented pair.

    Back at home, Mom leaves for work and Grandpa arrives to baby sit the boy. Grandpa is a little mischievous himself and as soon as Mom is gone he invites two friends over to play poker. However, Gaya transforms the three gentlemen into foot jugglers. This acrobatic group known as Les Castors consists of three brothers aged 54, 58 and 60. While Russian/Ukrainian dance music plays the trio reclines on chairs and juggles diverse items back and forth including basketballs, rolled carpets, a child's bed and even each other. Eventually the men settle back down to finish their poker game, neglecting the Boy who sneaks out in search of his parents.

    Back at the office Dad sneaks in late. However another encounter with the magic book has caused the office to become overgrown with jungle foliage. One employee transforms into an Indiana Jones-type character. A large wooden ball comes rolling through the office. Our adventurer hops on top of it and scampers across the room, performing a series of flips all while remaining on the ball, much to the chagrin of the increasingly agitated boss. The performer is Frédéric Barrette a 2003 graduate of Montreal's École Nationale de Cirque (National Circus School).

    From the chaos of Dad's office we cut to the quiet museum where Mom works. We happen upon a janitor who is looking at an ancient Egyptian artifact and daydreaming. A page from the magic book floats by and suddenly the Janitor is transformed into a cat burglar. He dons a black cap and sprays mist at the artifact's enclosure. Laser beams protecting the exhibit are revealed. The burglar realizes the only way to get to his loot is from above. Hence, he climbs up a Spanish Web (vertical rope) and attempts to swipe the treasure. Jonathan Morin (part of the Spanish Web team in Quidam) makes a dramatic plunge from the ceiling, the rope tied around his body arresting his fall at the last possible second. Before he can make the grab a visitor walks by and he quickly scampers back up the rope. When the coast is clear he plunges again and again, each attempt foiled by a passer-by. This is one of the most inventive adaptations of an existing Cirque act featured in the series so far.

    Back at the office, the workers leave for their lunch break and Scrooge is left alone with his beautiful assistant. He is in love with her though she adores another man. In an attempt to win her heart Scrooge presents his assistant with a gift; a pair of ballet slippers. She slips them on and the two dance a comic pas de deux mock ballet during which the boss strips down to his underwear. The dancers are real-life husband and wife Rodrigue Tremblay and Nicollette Hazewinkett. Upon the return of his employees the Boss drops his love-interest and quickly scrambles to put his clothes back on.

    Back at the museum Mom receives a huge crate with a new exhibit inside. She signs for the shipment and leaves. As the deliveryman pries open the crate he magically transforms into a warrior, dressed in an ancient Roman-style costume similar to that worn by the Aerial Strap artist in Nouvelle Expérience. The crate contains a large stone with a sword embedded in it. Could the sword be Excalibur? Could our warrior be King Arthur? The performer uses the sword as a hand balancing cane and demonstrates his extraordinary strength by performing an agile series of poses and balances on the cane, not touching down until the end of the act. The hand balancer is the remarkably talented 18-year-old Dimitri Prudnikov.

    Mom observes a painting which has slowly changed during the course of the day and as she is turned away Quidam walks by and she disappears. Returning to the office we find that it has become even more of a jungle as the foliage grows thicker, and the office workers start to shed their suits in favour of more tribal attire. Some wear their ties as headbands. The boy arrives and finds his father. Overjoyed to see his son the father picks him up but they are affected by Gaya's solar wind and we find them performing a beautiful adagio/hand-to-hand act similar to the one performed in Saltimbanco. The boy, possessing all the grace and flexibility of a young Anton Chelnokov, precariously balances on his father in a variety of poses in a beautiful performance.

    The storybook has not yet finished wreaking its havoc on the office. Another page inspires Tarzan to materialize. Played by Igor Zaripov, Tarzan flies through the air in a high-flying aerial strap act. The 20-year-old performer displays remarkable gymnastic ability.

    Finally, Gaya and Quidam emerge at the office. Mom is transported there as well and the office workers transform into a funky dance tribe and party late into the night. As "Aborigenes Jam" (the Hoop Diving song from Dralion) strikes up the tribe accentuates the music with a variety of percussion instruments, and the Amazon warriors join the party as a group of female fire jugglers dance to the beat. The finale is performed by BAM, a street percussion group and Walkyries, a group of fire jugglers who are a product of the 2002 Cirque du Monde outreach program.

    Text written by Wayne Leung, as published in the “Fascination! Newsletter”.

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