The Magic Behind Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

The Magic Behind Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

February 8, 2019 · 5 min. readThis article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.  

Swining in Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

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.

Massive set at Cirque du Soleil's Crystal Cirque du Soleil's Crystal set in action

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.

Costumes for Cirque du Soleil's Crystal Wigs at Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

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.

Practicing for Regina's Cirque du Soleil's Crystal Hockey scene in Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

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.

Nameless character I named Patches in Cirque du Soleil's Crystal Balance in Patches in Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

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.

Regina's Cirque du Soleil's Crystal

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.

Some images supplied by Cirque du Soleil's press kit.

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