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.
Although the hot summer days of July are long behind us, 2017 is still Canada's 150th year. In honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday, I decided to put together a list of 150 things about Canada. This list talks about our quirkiness, our strengths, our weakness, and our legacy, for better and for worse. There are some sad facts, some odd facts and some facts that will probably make you open another tab to look into for yourself.
Hope you enjoy this list, and I hope you all had a great 2017!
1. Canada's two official languages are French and English, but only 20.6% of Canadians speak French.
For many of us in Saskatchewan, summer means it's time for an Alberta road trip. Although the endless stretches of prairie have their appeal, there is nothing quite like seeing the mountains rising over the horizon.
One challenge that comes with taking a summer road trip is the heat. Much like on this side of the border, it isn't uncommon for summer temperatures to get to the extreme. I know a few people who have had car problems in the heat, and my family is one of them. Nothing ruins a trip more than an unexpected visit to the mechanic.
Thankfully, Alberta has a myriad of places to go swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or fishing. This not only gives your vehicle time to cool off, but also gives you a chance to escape the heat as well.
About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.
Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.