Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based circus with premium acrobatics, presents its first on-the-ice show, “Crystal,” at Little Caesars Arena through Sunday.
Think of “Crystal” as a mash-up between the Ice Capades and Cirque’s arty, athletic aerial acts and gymnastics, merging the flying trapeze with skating’s speed and grace. What’s not to like?
“We wanted to bring a new touch to the ice show by introducing the Cirque way of doing things,” said spokeswoman Julie Desmarais.
“It’s an idea Cirque has looked into for many years, bringing Cirque stuff to the ice and exploring ice’s reflectiveness and elegance.”
Indeed, Desmarais said the show uses the ice as a blank canvas, projecting images onto it as a way of defining scenes.
“We use the ice surface as a way to tell the story,” she said, “to take the audience somewhere else.”
The star of the show is Crystal, played by Canadian figure skater Nobahar Dadui, who’s originally from Iran.
“Crystal is a character who is a bit of a misfit,” Desmarais said. “Her head is in the clouds, and she doesn’t feel she fits in anywhere.”
At the start of this family show, she said, “Crystal ventures onto the pond. The ice breaks and she falls through.”
The audience, in effect, plunges underwater with her, following her adventures, both marvelous and strange, in a journey that leads to greater confidence and a sense of herself.
“Crystal” had its world premiere in October at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana. The show took about 18 months to pull together, Desmarais said.
“The artists joined the production in June 2017, so we had about four months of staging and rehearsals, including workshops and trying acrobatic elements on the ice.”
The production blends the two disciplines, she said, and includes “a beautiful dual-straps act where the skater does acrobatics with the aerialist.”
Most of the acrobats who didn’t know how to skate learned, Desmarais said, “and some of the skaters now do acrobatics.”
“Crystal” is powered by a cast of 40 acrobats and skaters drawn from 11 different countries, including Canada, the United States, Chile, France, Spain and Australia.
With 19 shows currently playing around the world, Cirque is an international juggernaut employing about 1,400 performers of 50 different nationalities.
Cirque du Soleil
Little Caesars Arena
2645 Woodward, Detroit
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday;
1 and 5 p.m. Sunday