Thousands have already purchased tickets for the most highly anticipated event of the summer — the Cirque du Soleil • The first show is scheduled for Wednesday in Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena.
Canadian-based Cirque du Soleil (“Circus of the Sun”) is set to wow an Israeli audience on Wednesday as the show opens in Israel for the first time at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. The circus troop is scheduled to give several performances throughout the country.
Nokia Arena has taken on a new look instead of its usual basketball game format, and moments before the performers begin their opening Alegría act, here is a behind-the-curtain glimpse at one of the most breathtaking shows on earth.
The circus, which began in 1984 as a group of 20 street dancers, rapidly expanded to include more than 1,300 artists from 50 countries.
At the entrance to the Nokia Arena, one can already see the new look. Security guards are everywhere and accompany every move of the tour, which includes the stage, practice room, costume storage, massage room and dining area. Twenty-two trucks displaying the circus logo are stationed outside the center after having unloaded their wares and contribute to the impression that something big is about to happen. There is an international aroma in the air.
An elevated stage is placed in the center of the hall and appears as a round platform with attached ropes, swings, nets and fabrics that reflect light from dozens of high-powered spotlights and special lighting units.
Artistic Director Bruno Darmagnac says that except for a few changes in the complicated acrobatic act, the show, which has been running for the past 18 years, has not changed much.
The acrobatic part of the show is a true theatrical experience filled with moments during which numerous performers participate simultaneously and other, more intimate moments with only one or two performers. The act tells the story of a kingdom in which the king dies and leaves behind a power struggle between the old and new generations.
“This act integrates different types of entertainment,” Bruno says. “It includes street performances, song, live music and acrobatics. As soon as the Olympic Games end, we will invite excellent athletes to join us. Whoever wants to join will be tested and attend a training camp.”
Production Manager Michelle Tari said “The real challenge for us was to customize our show for this place. We needed 22 technicians and 22 trucks filled with equipment to construct the elevated stage in the center.” And as if the highly complex stage was not enough, our tour opened our eyes to an entire empire that lurked behind the curtains.
We were taken to a huge open area where performers practice their acts. “Here is where we warm up before going out to perform,” an acrobat tells us, and we are immediately treated to a sample of their tumbling frenzy.
Mark Baylor, a 27-year-old Canadian, has been jumping and tumbling with the circus for the past four years. “I was an athlete with Canada’s national team,” he tells us. This is his first time in Israel and he says he is looking forward to visiting the beaches. “There is a wonderful energy here and we heard tickets were sold out fast, which makes us very happy.”
Maxim Contago, the acrobats’ Ukrainian coach, prefers to visit Jerusalem on his day off.
Circus performers told us that they were not concerned at all about the security situation in the country and Israelis have reciprocated their good will by purchasing more than 72,000 tickets to the shows, which in turn caused producers to add an extra show to the schedule.
The circus will present 21 shows in Israel between August 8 and August 25. More than 100 million viewers have seen the show worldwide and Tel Aviv will soon enter the list of cities graced by this phenomenal entertainment.