Canada-based Cirque Eloize debuted its “iD” show in Dubai this week, bringing their unique urban display of dance and acrobatics to a Gulf audience for the first time.
Cirque Eloize has performed around the world since its inception in 1993, “Dubai is just the next step for us,” executive producer of Cirque Eloize, Jonathan St-Onge told Al Arabiya English.
“Just like (our show) iD, I think Dubai is young, urban, and international, you see people from all over the place, I love it,” he said, adding that the show reflects these features of Dubai’s society.
iD, which runs from August 15-24, aims to use the performing arts to emphasize individuality, something that is easily lost in our fast-paced, globalized world, according to St-Onge.
“We wanted to send a message that even though we live in [a] crazy world that goes very fast, there is always that café you visit with your friends, or the restaurant where you meet your family, or the park that you always go [to] [that] shows that you still have your individuality, and there is still a place for individuals and humans,” St-Onge told Al Arabiya English.
St-Onge explained the basis of the show as an exploration, through the medium of dance, of the urban environment and what it means to live in a big city.
“We wanted to explore the big cities, and explore the world of communication and social networking that we live in, as well as highlight the individual’s identity in this world where everything moves so fast, where you may get lost in big cosmopolitan cities such as New York, London, or Dubai,” he stated.
Not your typical circus
Cirque Eloiz identifies itself as a leader in “contemporary circus art.” It is modern, engaging, very theatrical, and its performers are strictly humans.
“We don’t have animals… these are all new circus disciplines, and we’ve invented some new apparatus as well. Most importantly, we have a storyline in the show,” St-Onge said, referring to the narrative, a love story set in the big city, that runs through the two-hour performance.
Other highlights that set Cirque Eloize apart from traditional circuses, usually associated with flying dagger acts and lion tamers, are the troupe’s use of innovative performance techniques and tools.
“The seer wheel, the roller blades, and the fabric from which the lady hangs from is quite new, it’s not in the traditional circus… [it] has been around for a long time but not really used in the circus,” St-Onge said.
Meet the performers
The Cirque Eloize cast includes 15 artists from over 10 different nationalities which include Canadian, Swiss and French, seven crew members and their executive producer who all flew to Dubai to perform the dynamic show that, according to them, is as fun to perform as is it to watch.
Nicolas Fortin, 29, is one of the troupe’s oldest members and has been working with Cirque Eloize for three years. He has 10 years’ experience as a performing artist and specializes in juggling acts that go far beyond the traditional remit of a three-ball act.
The show marks Fortin’s first time in the Middle East and he told Al Arabiya English that the experience was turning out to be a positive one.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s awesome so far, we had full houses and it is super good,” Fortin said.
One of the most applauded acts is a contortionist, Emi Vauthey, who at 20 years old is the youngest artist to be featured in the show.
She described the display to Al Arabiya English as “a lot of energy, and a lot of fun,” and further expressed her appreciation for the chance to work with the company and travel the world.
Just like Vauthey, all the artists in the show are experts in their own genre and come from far afield to join the troupe.
“We were looking for a male contortionist and this is very rare to find, so we looked up YouTube for days, and found a guy who was doing street performances in Uruguay. We reached him somehow, and flew him to us; he made it through casting and joined us for five years,” St-Onge told Al Arabiya English.
“Casting is super important for us, we have a casting page on our website, they can full an application and send a video, and we do watch everything,” he added.
Learn to fly
As part of an outreach program which aims to encourage a love for the performing arts, Cirque Eloize is conducting daily workshops for the public.
“The circus workshops take place during the day in the theatre for the kids and their families. There are two stations on stage and two others on the ground,” explained St-Onge.
“The workshops include trapeze, aerial ring, juggling, jumping on the trampoline, and other balance-related exercises,” he added.
Cirque Eloize is not a first for Dubai, or the UAE, when it comes to the performing arts. Cirque Du Soleil performed its Dralion show in Dubai in February while the Chinese State Circus also showcased their talents with a show in Abu Dhabi last October.