Crystal marks the first on-ice experience for Cirque du Soleil.
World class ice-skaters and acrobats will join forces as the story follows Crystal, the lead character, a misfit woman with her head in the clouds looking for new possibilities.
She ventures onto a pond and the ice breaks, causing her to fall into a surreal world of her own imagination.
Diving into the world, she discovers a brand new environment with new possibilities, and she becomes a confident, empowered and free person.
“I think the storyline of Crystal is also something that will touch a lot of people,” said Julie Desmarais, a publicist on the tour.
Desmarais added that the show includes 40 performers including musicians of 11 nationalities.
The idea of having an on-ice performance has been one Cirque staff have thought of for many years, but Desmarais said, “The concept and opportunity arose over a year ago, so we teamed up with acrobatic coaches and skating coaches as well and conducted several workshops to see how we could bring Cirque du Soleil’s touch to ice and how we could reinvent the traditional ice shows.”
One of the ice skaters in the upcoming performance is Andy Buchanan, who will be skating with his wife Robin Johnstone.
From Wabamun, west of Edmonton, Buchanan grew up skating at The Royal Glenora Club with famous skaters Jamie Salé and Kurt Browning.
“I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world doing shows and I’ve pretty much worked for every company with my wife Robin.”
The pair had found out that Cirque du Soleil was doing a show and jumped at the opportunity to get onboard, hearing it from someone they knew who worked at Cirque.
“We sent in all of our stuff – our videos, everything – and we didn’t hear anything, because it’s an ice show and they weren’t really sure exactly the direction at first,” said Buchanan.
They later sent in everything again, this time through somebody on the acrobatics side they knew and finally received a phone call.
“They sent a piece of music that was this really intense classical music, and they said, ‘We need you to choreograph a piece, just yourself skating, just your movement, no tricks and then one of your wife Robin and one together.’
“We sent that and then the next day we got a contract.”
Buchanan said the experience with Cirque has been amazing.
“I’ve been a fan of Cirque du Soleil since I saw my first show when O first opened up, and it was probably the best show I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Having been fans of it for so long, he said to be part of their first on ice show is a turning point for skating and skating shows.
“We feel very proud and honoured to be part of this and to be ambassadors for our sport within this new genre.”
His role in the performance is that of adagio skating, which is a form of pair skating most commonly seen in ice shows. He and his wife have had to use every trick the’ve ever done in skating, plus they’ve had to learn acrobatics.
“It’s been absolutely incredible to learn all these new things,” he said.
The main number he’s involved in is a number called Courtship.
“It’s kind of like a ball, and it’s when Crystal’s looking for something more than what she has, and she’s seeing almost this love story going on around her.”
One of his favourite numbers he’s in is one involving swinging poles in a mix of Chinese pole and Russian swing.
“I’m actually on the pole and you’re swinging 20 feet above the ice. It’s incredible.”
The show runs at the Enmax Centrium May 9th to 13th.
Due to high ticket demand, another time has been added to the May 12th date. Tickets can be purchased through cirquedusoleil.com/crystal.