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The Fall
Flight of Icarus
The Meeting
Synchro Tumbling
Solo Trapeze
Clown Magic
Zeppelin (Cloud)
The Kidnapping
Georgian Dance
Fireflies (Gitans)
Slippery Surface
Lounge Singer
Solo on Crutches
Aerial Straps
Cyr Wheel
Russian Swings

Dance Trapeze
Solo Aerial Strap

Pas de Deux
Water Meteors
Triple Trapeze
Aerial Hoop
Icarian Games




Costumes & Characters
    “One of my objectives at Cirque du Soleil is to design costumes that will accentuate and even reinforce the visual and emotional impact of the risks taken by the artists, while ensuring their complete safety.” - Eiko Ishioka, Costume Designer

Eiko Ishioka has had a hand in several artistic disciplines, including designing costumes for the cinema, theatre and opera. However, the circus arts were uncharted territory for her. For Varekai, she set herself the double challenge of designing resolutely original costumes and giving new shapes to traditional fabrics. Safety, comfort and freedom of movement are essential factors in the design of acrobatic costumes. Never losing sight of these objectives, Eiko Ishioka dreamt up exuberant costumes that make the already spectacular acrobatic feats look even more audacious.

  Varekai has over 600 costumes, shoes, wigs, hats and accessories. It takes a total of 250 hours a week to keep the costumes impeccable on tour. A team of 6 people clean, repair, iron, repaint the shoes, retouch the hats, and so on. It's hard work, but they enjoy it! The highly skilled costume makers fashioned the most original creations after no less than 33,000 hours of hard work!

Though they are perfectly safe, the costumes of Varekai were designed to heighten the perceived risk and danger faced by circus artists on a daily basis. The idea was to create timeless costumes that would not be subject to changing trends and fashions while combining safety and comfort with innovation. The very vivid, stylized costumes were inspired by the natural world - plant life, reptiles, land animals, marine life, but also wind, water, fire, and wood - without being literal interpretations. They are very much part of an approach seeking to give the leotard a new shape.

The vibrant, flamboyant colors and unusual shapes of the over 130 costumes in the Varekai wardrobe accentuate the artists’ movements, enhancing their beauty and grace. Moleskin (Lycra) continues to be one of the most popular fabrics, on account of its flexible, elastic and easy care properties. The costume of La Toupie - a character inspired by underwater creatures - is made from Lycra; the strange tentacles, which undulate like seaweed in water, are made from polystyrene foam. The printing on the costumes for the Russian Swings act was inspired by pictures of eruptions of volcanic rock. The images were scanned, processed, and screen-printed onto the fabric. Some special materials were also used, such as flexible titanium rods, sponge nylon, and different types of fire-resistant materials. For Example, La Promise - that peculiar creature that bewitches Icarus and seduces him with her beauty and sensuality - has a translucent carapace made from stretch netting mounted on a structure made of boning. And the clumps of foliage on the head or back of some characters are made of ultra-light materials such as crinyl and cristalette. Although the thighs of the character called Candide seem heavy, they are in fact very light beause they are hollow. Very unusual materials indeed!

The other inhabitants of the forest are...


    Icarus is the central character in Varekai's narrative. Loosly based on the tragic tale of Icarus (who drops into the sea after flying too close to the sun), Cirque asked: what if Icarus had fallen into a mysterious forest inhabied by strange beings instead? How would his life have changed? Rather than dying... innocent and vulnerable, he'd find himself wounded in an unknown world and in the custody of these forest creatures. But rather than prey upon him, these creatures help him regain the skils he once lost and show him that he can overcome any adversity. His desire to live and overcome his fears will drive him to new heights and an eventual rebirth.
La Promise (The Bethrothed)
    From caterpillar to butterfly; from primeval to promise. Like Icarus, The Promise goes through a metamorphosis of her own. In the beginning, she erupts from a crater in the earth, a volcanic offering. Once on stage, she twists and turns, a prisoner in her own skin, trying to free herself from her ill-tailored trappings. Hers is a world of worry, fear, and fragility. Yet she enraptures Icaru with her sensual beauty. Soon, she’ll fall in love with Icarus and her world will turn, as will ours: she will be his guiding light and he, in turn, will be the catalyst for her metamorphosis.
The Guide
    Like a mythical creature or a gothic gargoyle, both menace and protector, the Guide is omnipresent: officiating at the sacred circle of the Fall; orchestrating Icarus in his every move. Choreographer and ritual healer, Guardian of time and alchemist of renaissance The Guide sees all, knows all, and controls all. Weathered by the sun of many centuries, he’s like a kindly, fragile great-grandfather—a wise old man whose mission is to inspire and bring about change. (Originally, The Guide was going to be as much puppet as actor. "They started out with this head piece and kept adding things, making it more and more elaborate," Proteau said, smiling. "Then, a week before the show was to open, the head of Cirque du Soleil came in, took one look at what I was wearing, and said, ‘Cut that!’?" Proteau came up with an alternate headpiece for his character - a helmet with a large light bulb on top. "My original thought was something that would plug into the wall," he said, chuckling. "But the technical people just kind of looked at it and shook their heads and said, 'That would be pretty dangerous, Rod.' So they came up with something with batteries.")
The Skywatcher
    Part birdman, part crazed genius. The Skywatcher parades out onto the stage with his omnicycle if you will, a fantastic contraption with bells, secret boxes, whistles, and whirligigs designed to capture the sounds and collective souls of the past. He’s the master of symphonies, the inveterate inventor. Gangly and disjointed, with feathers akimbo, the Skywatcher also bears comic witness to the love story unfolding between Icarus and The Promise.
The Clowns
    In this world, Varekai is enhabited by two of the most interesting comical characters this side of Cirque. Seperate they're a handfull, together they're over-the-top. They make us laugh, cry... and sometimes make us mad but the clowns of Varekai are strikingly funny when put to the test. You'll find this duo turns up quite a bit during the performance. At first, they team up to bring us a magic act (gone terribly wrong). Later you'll see one "plug up" the Body Skating routine and the other will sing us a song of sorrow (while trying to remain in the spotlight!)
Other Characters
    You'll find many other characters in this forest than those already listed and described, such as: The Volcano Leapers (Russian Swing performers), The Goddesses (The Triple Trapeze performers), The Gatherers (the Water Meteor performers), La Fantôme (the ghost), La Petite Lune (the little moon), Candide, Castor & Pollux (the Aerial Straps performers), the Firemasters (the Georgian Dancers), the Limping Angel (Solo on Crutches performer), L'Écureuil (the squirrel), La Caporal (The Corporal), Carmencita, Le Dandy, La Diseuse, La Toupie (also known as the Fauxlion), Ermite (the Hermit), Mafioso, Magioso, The Mother, Algea, and Na (the Baton Twirler).

{The Promise}
{The Guide}
{Clowns - Claudio}
{Clowns - Claudio}
{Clowns - Mooky}
{Limping Angel}
{Patriarch & Muse}
{The Lizard}
{Blue Lizard}
{La Toupie / FauxLion}
{Ermite (the Hermit)}

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