Varekai

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Varekai
Company Cirque du Soleil
Genre Contemporary circus
Show type Touring show
Date of premiere April 24, 2002
Creative team
Director Dominic Champagne
Director of creation Andrew Watson
Set designer Stéphane Roy
Composer Violaine Corradi
Costume designer Eiko Ishioka
Lighting designer Nol van Genuchten
Choreographers Michael Montanaro
Bill Shannon
Sound designer François Bergeron
Makeup designer Nathalie Gagné
Aerial acts designer André Simard
Rigging designer Jaque Paquin
Clown act creator Cahal McCrystal
Projections Francis Laporte
Artistic director Fabrice Lemire
(as of December 2012)
Other information
Preceded by Dralion (1999)
Succeeded by Zumanity (2003)
Official website

Varekai is a Cirque du Soleil touring production that premiered in Montréal in April 2002.[1] Its title means "wherever" in the Romani language, and the show is an "acrobatic tribute to the nomadic soul".[2]

The show begins with the Greek myth of Icarus, picking up where the myth leaves off, reimagining the story of what happened to Icarus after he flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky. In Varekai, rather than drowning in the sea below him, Icarus lands in a lush forest full of exotic creatures.

Set and technical information[edit]

The set, created by Stéphane Roy, includes four major components: the forest, stage, catwalk, and lookout. The forest consists of 330 "trees",[clarification needed] of which around 20 are climbable. The trees range from 4.5 metres (15 ft) to 10.5 metres (34 ft) in height. The stage is 12.8 metres (42 ft) in diameter and has five trap doors, two turntables, and one elevating platform. The catwalk is 30 metres (98 ft) in length and allows performers to cross over the stage; it ends at a lookout which is 7 square metres (75 sq ft).[1]

Cast and crew[edit]

Approximately 95 people travel with the Varekai tour; 50 are artists and the rest are crew. During each engagement in a city, anywhere from 80 - 100 people are hired locally for temporary jobs during the week but mainly for load-in and load-out. The cast and crew is an international one, representing 25 nationalities.[1]

Acts[edit]

Varekai's acts range from aerial arts such as straps and hoops, to precision arts such as juggling and icarian games.[1][3]

Permanent Acts[edit]

  • Opening: As the show begins, the creatures from the forest come to the stage and the Skywatcher comes out with a soundmachine.
  • Charivari: The characters of Varekai emerge from the forest then the stage lights up and the characters come out and perform an act.
  • Flight of Icarus: Icarus falls from the sky into the forest of Varekai. He rises up and performs an act in an Aerial Net.
  • Icarian Games: Icarian Games is one of the oldest circus arts disciplines. One of the performer lies on his back and flips, twirls and spins another performer on his feet.
  • Solo Trapeze: Suspended high above the stage, a woman performs, dances and contorts in a Solo Trapeze. This act was added as an permanent act in 2014.
  • Clown Magic: Two characters perform a clown act using magic. The Male Clown is currently played by Steven Bishop and the Female Clown by Brazilian clown and actress Gabriella Argento.
  • Georgian Dance: This act takes its inspiration from the national dance of the Lezgins, popular among many people in the Caucasus Mountains. Several performers in red dance.
  • Slippery Surface: Darting and sliding on a specially designed surface, the artists fling and catch each other, creating an illusion of skating.
  • Ne Me Quitte Pas: The male clown character lipsyncs a song while trying to chase the spotlight.
  • Solo on Crutches: Like a jointed puppet, the Limping Angel performs on crutches, sliding around the stage.
One of the characters in the show. Picture taken in Melbourne.
  • Aerial Straps: Two performers fly above the stage, suspended by aerial straps.
  • Juggling: A juggler handles and manipulates large juggling balls, clubs, hats and ping-pong balls, manipulating them using his hands, feet, head and even his mouth.
  • Lightbulb: The Skywatcher spots Le Guide in despair, due to his lightbulb turning off. The Skywatcher tries to replace his lightbulb with a new one.
  • Handbalancing on Canes: La Promise performs an act contorting and spinning gracefully on canes.
  • The Wedding: As Icarus finally meets up with La Promise, they perform a short aerial strap duo and then get married.
  • Russian Swing: Acrobatics fly up into the air and down onto a net, being propelled by two Russian Swings. The performers flip, jump and glide into the net, as well as jumping onto the performers shoulders, as well as jumping from one russian swing to another.

Rotational Acts[edit]

  • Dance Baton: World Champion baton performer Arisa Tanaka performs this act. She throws, twirls and manipulates up to 3 batons at once while performing acrobatics.

Retired Acts[edit]

  • Acrobatic Pas de Deux: Two lovers dance and perform acrobatic stunts, showing their love, trust, and respect for each other. This act played from 2002 to 2003.
  • Water Meteors: Three young acrobatics perform an act using water meteors, spinning and juggling them. This act played from 2002 to 2013.
  • Triple Trapeze: Four young women perform an act on a suspended Triple Trapeze. This act played from 2002 to 2013. Stella Umeh was one of the trapeze artists and has now along with several other performers retired from the show.[4] Other accomplished gymnasts and artists such as Susanna Defraia performed the act. Susanna Defraia, along with along with Stella Umeh and Helen Ball were co-choreographers and original performers of this act.

Costumes[edit]

Varekai's costume designer, Eiko Ishioka, set out to design the costumes to heighten the sense of risk and danger the artists face while performing their acts. The designs are an approach to give the traditional leotard a new shape. Eiko drew inspiration from the natural world: plant life, reptiles, land animals, marine life, wind, water, fire and wood.[2] While there are over 130 costumes in the entire collection, over 600 elements combine to make the entire wardrobe of costumes, shoes, hats, and accessories. During the tour it takes a 250 hours a week to keep the costumes in a state usable for performance. This includes repairs, cleaning, pressing, repainting (shoes), ironing, and other related tasks.[1]

One of the primary materials used throughout the wardrobe is lycra, primarily for its ease of care, suppleness, and elasticity. Other materials used throughout include titanium rods, nylon sponge and other types of fire-retardant materials. La Toupie's costume, for example, is made from lycra, and the tentacles are made from polystyrene foam. In addition to textures and structures being created for the costumes, digital screen-printing was utilized for some pieces. The costumes for the Russian swing act were inspired by volcanic eruptions. Pictures were taken, scanned, processed and then digitally screen-printed to give the characters their bright red, explosive appearance. The foliage seen on the heads and backs of some characters is made from crinyl and cristalette, which are both extremely light-weight materials. Some of the translucent carapaces seen on some performers, including La Promise, are made from stretch netting mounted on a structure made of boning.[2]

Music[edit]

The live music is performed by seven musicians and two singers. Composed by Violaine Corradi and directed by the bandleader/keyboard player, the music features many different genres and energies. Violaine combined the sounds of Hawaiian rituals, 11th-century French troubadour songs, traditional Armenian melodies and gospel music with contemporary arrangements to create the sound of Varekai. While some songs are quiet and sorrowful, others are more upbeat and exciting.[1][5]

The only remaining original musician and the only cast/crew member to perform in every one of Varekai's 4,000 shows without missing a single performance is drummer Paul J. Bannerman.

Instruments used in the show include keyboards, bass, drums, percussion, violin, and various wind instruments. There are numerous instrumental solos, with the violin, flute, and accordion among the instruments heard. When these occur, the musician comes into view, still hidden in the trees but slightly visible to the audience.[5]

There are two distinct voices in the musical score. Their role is to link the story together, sometimes predicting the future, at other times, propelling the story forward. The female singer called "The Muse " (currently played by Isabelle Corradi) and the male singer called the "Patriarch " (currently played by Craig Jennings) each share the songs alternating between solos with harmonies and duos. The Muse, dressed in white & purple and The Patriarch, dressed in purple and black emerge from the forest throughout the show.

Album[edit]

Returning from her work with Cirque du Soleil's Dralion, Violaine Corradi wrote the Varekai score, which was released as a CD album on January 7, 2003. Rather than creating a literal soundtrack, Cirque du Soleil collaborated with Nitin Sawhney to produce a CD with themes and sounds from Varekai but quite differently arranged. The CD features the vocals of the two original singers of Varekai, Zara Tellander and Mathieu Lavoie; the soundtrack also includes the vocals of world music artists Natacha Atlas and Tina Grace, who were not in the production, simply featured on the album. Many of the CD tracks are dramatically different from their live counterparts.

In late 2003 Cirque du Soleil created an 'Exclusive Premium Edition' CD, which featured the original CD as well as a bonus CD and DVD containing 6 live tracks, two remixes, and 2 music videos.

The revised album artwork of Varekai, 2013

Track listing:

  1. Aureus (Spoken Word, 2002 - Present)
  2. Rain One (Interlude, 2002 - Present)
  3. Le Rêveur (Solo on Crutches, 2002 - Present)
  4. Vocea (Flight of Icarus, 2002 - Present)
  5. Moon Licht (Handbalancing on Canes, 2002 - Present)
  6. Rubeus (Spoken Word, 2002 - Present)
  7. Patzivota (Setup to Russian Swing, 2002 - Present)
  8. El Péndulo (Aerial Straps, 2002 - Present)
  9. Gitans (Opening, 2002 - Present)
  10. Kèro Hiréyo
    • Triple Trapeze (2002 - 2013)
    • Aerial Hoop (2013)
    • Solo Trapeze (2014 - Present)
  11. Infinitus (Spoken Word, 2002 - Present)
  12. Lubia Dobarstan
    • Water Meteors (2002 - 2013)
    • Twirling Baton (Rotation, 2013 - Present)
  13. Emballa (Juggling, 2002 - Present)
  14. Oscillum (Russian Swing, 2002 - Present)
  15. Funambul (Cloud Interlude, 2002 - Present)
  16. Resolution (Not in Show)

Below are the live tracks, in order as they appear on the Exclusive Premium Edition bonus CD. Listed after each track title is the act associated with the track.

  1. Célébration de l'Errance (Opening Dance and Finale, 2002 - Present)
  2. Trasparenza
    • Acrobatic Pas de Deux (2002 - 2003)
    • Aerial Hoop (Rotation, 2004 - 2013)
  3. Euphoria (Icarian Games, 2002 - Present)
  4. Sun Drum Fun (Body Skating, 2002 - Present)
  5. Mutationis (Handbalancing on Canes, 2002 - Present)
  6. Movimento (Georgian Dance, 2002 - Present)

The bonus CD also contains two tracks that are remixed versions of "El Péndulo" and "Emballa". In addition, the DVD features two videos with nature and recording footage, set to the CD version of "Patzivota" and "Moon Licht".

Further information: Cirque du Soleil discography

Vocalists[edit]

Here is a list of all of the singers in Varekai, since its premiere in 2002.

Female Singers

  • Zara Tellander - 24 April 2002 (Montréal) to 11 July 2004 (Denver)
  • Isabelle Corradi - 25 July 2004 (Boston) to Present

Male Singers

  • Mathieu Lavoie - 24 April 2002 (Montréal) to 23 November 2003 (Los Angeles)
  • Craig Jennings - 5 December 2003 (Pomona) to Present

Filmography[edit]

The experiences of the initial cast during the creation of the show were portrayed in the television series Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within (featured on the Bravo Network). Fire Within won the 2003 Emmy Award in the "Outstanding Non-Fiction Program" (Alternative) category.[1]

Cirque du Soleil released a film adaptation of Varekai on June 14, 2003, directed by Dominic Champagne and Nick Morris. The filming took place in Toronto during the show's tour and the vocalists in the filming were Zara Tellander and Mathieu Lavoie with Anton Tchelnokov as Icarus, Olga Pikhienko as La Promise/The Betrothed and John Gilkey as The Skywatcher.[6]

Tour[edit]

Varekai completed its first North American tour in Vancouver, Canada on July 23, 2006. It debuted in Australia in August 2006 and arrived in New Zealand in early 2007. Later that year, Varekai finished its Australian tour in Perth, and moved on to its first European tour. At the end of 2007 the show had its European premiere in Antwerp, Belgium. It had its UK premiere in 2008 at London's Royal Albert Hall and again on 5 January 2010, marking the 25th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil.

Following the European tour that cumulated in Barcelona as 2010 came to a close, the show toured to Taipei, Taiwan; Seoul, South Korea and Manila, Philippines in 2011. The Manila run was exceptional in that the show endured the Monsoon season and several Typhoons to the point it was exceptional that the show even performed there.

In the later half of 2011 Varekai landed in Sao Paulo and spent 12 months in Brazil before continuing to Argentina and Chile in 2013, and then Peru, Columbia, Costa Rica and Mexico in 2013. Guadalajara, followed by Mexico City were the final destinations for the Grande Chapiteau. Varekai performed the last performance under the Grande Chapiteau on 24 November, 2013.

The show then transferred to the Arena format in December 2013. The city that hosted the transformation was Bossier City, LA, seen in public for the first time on 12 and 13 December, 2013.

After the transformation in Bossier City, Varekai Premiered the Arena version at Centre Bell in Montreal just before Christmas in 2013, honoring the long standing Cirque tradition of a winter show at the Bell.

Through 2014 Varekai continues to tour North America and continues to bring the magic of Cirque to the people who have never experienced Cirque du Soleil.

Varekai has been seen by more than 6 million spectators around the world, and has reached many milestones to accomplish this.[1]

  • 1000th performance in Dallas, Texas, in 2004
  • 1500th performance in Seattle, Washington, in 2006
  • 2000th performance in Perth, Australia, in 2007
  • 2500th performance in Seville, Spain, in February 2009
  • 3000th performance in Ostend, Belgium, in August 2010
  • 3500th performance in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in February 2012
  • 4000th performance in Mexico City, Mexico, in October 2013

Varekai has been to many different regions, here is the list of all of them.

  • North American Tour - [2002 - 2006]
  • Australian Tour - [2006 - 2007]
  • European Tour - [2007 - 2011]
  • Asia & Pacific Tour - [2011]
  • South American Tour - [2011 - 2013]
  • North American Tour - Arena Version - [2013 - Present]

Since Varekai's premiere in 2002, it has had an extensive touring history, as detailed below.[7][8]

Varekai's last Grand Chapiteau tour was in Mexico City, MX and it was transferred to an Arena format, with its first stop being Bossier City, LA.

The following colorboxes indicate the region of each performance:
  EU   Europe   NA   North America   SA   South and Central Americas   AP   Asia/Pacific   OC   Oceania

Arena Tour[edit]

2014 schedule[edit]

  •   NA   Kingston, ON - Rogers K-Rock Centre - From 16 Jan 2014 to 19 Jan 2014
  •   NA   Windsor, ON - WFCU Centre - From 23 Jan 2014 to 26 Jan 2014
  •   NA   Hamilton, ON - Copps Coliseum - From 29 Jan 2014 to 2 Feb 2014
  •   NA   Detroit, MI - Joe Louis Arena - From 5 Feb 2014 to 9 Feb 2014
  •   NA   Youngstown, OH - Covelli Centre - From 12 Feb 2014 to 16 Feb 2014
  •   NA   Frisco, TX - Dr Pepper Arena - From 19 Feb 2014 to 23 Feb 2014
  •   NA   Cedar Park, TX - Cedar Park Center - From 26 Feb 2014 to 2 Mar 2014
  •   NA   Beaumont, TX - Ford Park - From 5 Mar 2014 to 9 Mar 2014
  •   NA   Baton Rouge, LA - Baton Rouge River Center - From 12 Mar 2014 to 16 Mar 2014
  •   NA   Pensacola, FL - Pensacola Bay Center - From 19 Mar 2014 to 23 Mar 2014
  •   NA   Pittsburgh, PA - Petersen Event Center - From 27 Mar 2014 to 30 Mar 2014
  •   NA   East Lansing, MI - Breslin Center - From 2 Apr 2014 to 6 Apr 2014
  •   NA   Knoxville, TN - Thompson-Boling Arena - From 9 Apr 2014 to 13 Apr 2014
  •   NA   Loveland, CO - Budweiser Events Center - From 1 May to 4 May 2014
  •   NA   Broomfield, CO - 1STBANK Center - From 7 May to 11 May 2014
  •   NA   Kansas City, MO - Sprint Center - From 14 May to 18 May 2014
  •   NA   Oshawa, ON - General Motors Centre - From 21 May 2014 to 25 May 2014
  •   NA   London, ON - Budweiser Gardens - From 28 May 2014 to 1 Jun 2014
  •   NA   Bridgeport, CT - Webster Bank Arena - From 4 Jun 2014 to 8 Jun 2014
  •   NA   Hartford, CT - XL Center - From 11 Jun 2014 to 15 Jun 2014
  •   NA   Bangor, ME - Cross Insurance Center - From 18 Jun to 22 Jun 2014
  •   NA   Manchester, NH - Verizon Wireless Arena - From 25 Jun to 29 Jun 2014
  •   NA   Providence, RI - Dunkin' Donuts Center - From 1 Jul 2014 to 6 Jul 2014
  •   NA   Indianapolis, IN - Bankers Life Fieldhouse - From 24 Jul to 27 Jul 2014
  •   NA   Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center - From 30 Jul to 3 Aug 2014
  •   NA   Cleveland, OH - Wolstein Center - From 6 Aug to 10 Aug 2014
  •   NA   Erie, PA - From 13 Aug to 17 Aug 2014
  •   NA   Atlantic City, NJ - From 20 Aug to 24 Aug 2014
  •   NA   Newark, NJ - From 27 Aug to 31 Aug 2014
  •   NA   Portland, ME - From 3 Sep to 7 Sep 2014
  •   NA   Philadelphia, PA - From 10 Sep to 14 Sep 2014
  •   NA   Orlando, FL - From 17 Sep to 21 Sep 2014
  •   NA   Estero, FL - From 24 Sep to 28 Sep 2014
  •   NA   Highland Heights, KY - Bank of Kentucky Center - From 16 Oct to 19 Oct 2014
  •   NA   Roanoke, VA - From 22 Oct to 26 Oct 2014
  •   NA   Hershey, PA - From 29 Oct to 2 Nov 2014
  •   NA   Columbia, SC - From 5 Nov to 9 Nov 2014
  •   NA   Hampton, VA - From 12 Nov to 16 Nov 2014

Grand Chapiteau Tour[edit]

2002 schedule[edit]

  •   NA   Montréal, QC - From 24 Apr 2002 to 16 Jun 2002 (show première)
  •   NA   Québec, QC - From 27 Jun 2002 to 21 Jul 2002
  •   NA   Toronto, ON - From 1 Aug 2002 to 8 Sep 2002
  •   NA   Philadelphia, PA - From 19 Sep 2002 to 20 Oct 2002
  •   NA   San Francisco, CA - From 7 Nov 2002 to 29 Dec 2002

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Varekai: Press Kit" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  2. ^ a b c Clément, Ronald (2009). Cirque du Soleil 25 Years of Costumes (in CN, EN, FR, JP). Canada: Dépôt légal, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada. pp. 68–73. ISBN 978-2-9803493-4-8. 
  3. ^ "Varekai Acts". Cirque Tribune. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  4. ^ Stella Umeh
  5. ^ a b "Varekai Music" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  6. ^ "Cirque du Soleil: Varekai". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  7. ^ "Varekai: Tickets". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  8. ^ "Varekai (Tour Schedule)". Cirque Tribune. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 

External links[edit]