The dragon and the lion: Cirque du Soleil visits Abbotsford

The never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature will be displayed in Abbotsford next week with a production by aerialists and dancers, to an international beat.

Cirque du Soleil’s performance of Dralion has seven shows at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre starting on Thursday

The never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature will be displayed in Abbotsford next week with a production by aerialists and dancers, to an international beat.

Cirque du Soleil is presenting Dralion at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) for seven shows, with opening night on Thursday, June 2.

The mix of circus acts and entertainment will blend melodies from India, Africa and Europe.

Its title is the merging of the dragon, symbolizing the East, and the lion, symbolizing the West.

At the show’s beginning, the four elements – air, water, fire and earth – are in conflict, all hoping to defend their territories.

As the show goes on, they come to live in peace and harmony.

Gaya, the Goddess of the Earth, is played by Henriette Gbou.

Originally from Africa’s Ivory Coast, Gbou is a long-time resident of Montreal.

She has been a performer in Dralion since it started in 1999, after being scouted at a dance performance in Africa. She’s always played the same role, in which she possesses human warmth (fire) and the cool, fresh vitality of life (water).

Her costume consists of red, blue, yellow and green pieces, complete with elaborate makeup, which she puts on herself.

With the help of a translator, Gbou spoke through her thick French accent about her love for Dralion over the phone.

Being on stage and sharing the energy with the cast and audience is what has kept her with the show for so long, she said.

But it’s the high quality production of acrobatics, dance, choreography, comedy and energy that keeps people coming back to watch the performance, she added.

The Abbotsford show will be part of a new leg of the tour, lasting 10 weeks. In total, the cast and crew spend about 40 weeks a year on the road. Gbou has learned to balance the hectic routine, which sees her perform for 10 weeks and return home for two.

When at home, Gbou teaches dance, keeping her in shape.

She’s always dancing, she joked. Before each show, Gbou can be found backstage dancing in front of a mirror in her full costume and makeup. It helps her get into character, she said.

To buy tickets visit www.abbotsfordcentre.ca, visit the box office or call 1-866-977- AESC (2372).

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Dralion costumes

With inspirations from China, India and Africa, the costumes of Dralion are vibrant, colourful and artistic.

Each colour represents one of the four elements. Blue is air, green is water, red is fire and ochre (golden yellow) is earth. Here are more fun facts:

– Over 5,000 meters of fabric were used in creating the costumes.

– The fabrics come from around the globe, including China, the U.S., Italy, France, England and Quebec.

– Some unusual materials were used to make the costumes and accessories, including horse hair, metal, window screen, emu feathers, crystals, styrofoam, plastic, bubble wrap, springs and hardware items.

– The majority of the Dralion costumes are custom-made for each artist.

– Dralion has close to 1,500 costume pieces, including shoes, hats and accessories.

– Over 300 pairs of shoes are cleaned and hand-painted weekly.