Would you rather live in a perfect fantasy, or a flawed reality?
This is the question Crystal from Cirque du Soleil's latest performance must ask herself. Is the pain and suffering we go through on a daily basis worth only a few moments of joy? Or would it be better if there was only joy and no pain at all?
Crystal might be the 42nd Cirque du Soleil performance created, but it is the first to mix ice-skating with acrobatics. It isn't all skating and twirling, though, as twenty-two of the thirty-four performers are professional acrobats.
With anything relating to magic, it takes an army to pull off the illusion. I had the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes work of Crystal on opening night and I was amazed by the amount of work needed to make the dream come true.
It takes four stylists, thirty-four technicians, and one-hundred stage hands to make the show operate. The production set takes sixteen hours to set up, seven of which are dedicated to the behemoth structure on the far side of the stage. There are also forty wigs, eighty skates and 2,000 costume pieces used to make the show as immersive as possible.
The reason for the vast number of costumes is because each performer has multiple outfits, and multiple versions of each in case of a wardrobe malfunction. Performers change costumes throughout the night, with the quickest wardrobe change occurring in less than sixty seconds. Each performer has costumes made specifically for their body-size, and only minor modifications are made on site. If the performer is sick, their replacement also has costumes and backup costumes available.
Each performer must do their own makeup – men included. However, makeup is only part of their costume that helps distinguish each performer from one another. There is little narration in Crystal, so visuals play the most important role. From hair to clothing to makeup, each identifiable feature makes each character that much more distinguishable to the audience.
Crystal also uses light-tracking technology that follows sensors in the performers clothing. Unlike the days of having stage lights controlled by incognito crew members, modern technology grants the opportunity to manipulate light and darkness. Countless times throughout the performance this technology is used, from the opening minutes to the grand finale.
There are several scenes in the performance that are especially impressive. The most-notable was the hockey scene, one that was mentioned time and time again while we were backstage. When I saw it on opening night, I quickly realized this would be remembered as one of the most iconic scenes of the entire performance. This scene pushes performers to the limit, mixing speed and agility with comedic genius. It was also the only scene where one of the skaters almost fell, which shows just how difficult this scene was to create.
Another noteworthy part of the performance is the contrast between characters. Although we are only revealed the name of Crystal, another recurring character – the comic relief of the show – seems to be on a similar journey. As Crystal starts to transform as an individual, this person does not, and their differences illustrates the growing divide between the two people.
Crystal is the first Cirque du Soleil performance I have seen, and I wasn't sure what to expect. It was a visual delight, but I wasn't keen on all the music choices – especially Sia's Chandelier. The performance started in October of 2018 so the music is modern enough to be relevant, but within a few years it will be dated. With any performance, the music is what people remember the most, and Crystal's ambience needed a defining song to put an auditory stamp on the night. I feel this was the only piece missing from an otherwise excellent experience.
For a first-of-its-kind performance, Crystal expertly highlights the struggles every individual must confront when becoming a better person but also keeps the performance light, energetic and one that will be talked about for years to come.
Crystal has shows on February 7 and 8 at 7PM, and two shows on February 9 and 10 and 1:30 PM and 5:30PM. You can get your tickets on Ticketmaster.
Most people know how to ride a bicycle. They learned sometime as a child and never forgot. I am not one of those people. I tried learning when I was a child, a teenager and an adult, and I have never mastered the two-wheel contraption. Whenever I see a child zip past me on a bike, I get a little jealous inside. I've always wanted to learn, but it's just something I've never been able to do.
On my recent trip to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, I explored several of the many biking paths that wind through the area. The paths are also hikable, so I walked them instead. Although I've visited Cypress Hills several times, I never get used to the hills and lakes throughout the area. With dozens of kilometres of trails, you can spend a weekend there and never do the same thing twice. Although hiking around the park was incredible, I imagine it would be a lot more fun, and a lot easier, to bike it instead.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
If you're visiting Alberta this summer, you probably have your heart set on visiting the mountains. After all, places like Lake Louise, Banff, Waterton and now Castle Provincial Park are some of the most beautiful sites in Canada, and they're always a hit on Instagram (if you're into that kind of thing). But, between Regina and the mountains is a whole province with plenty of sights to explore.
Last year I took more trips than I could count to southern Alberta, but most of them ended near Medicine Hat. Had I gone a bit further, I would have found myself in a myriad of attractions to see, from historical museums to sites of natural disasters and just about everything in-between.
For those looking to make a few stops on their way to the Rocky Mountains, or for those who are just looking for an Alberta road trip, here are six attractions you must visit while in southern Alberta.