The Ticket: Cirque du Soleil Crystal

Cirque du Soleil will be back in Abbotsford this spring for a breathtaking, ice-cold performance.

When you think about ice skating, you probably think of Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir—or the glittery Disney on Ice shows that kids go crazy for (even though adults are the ones who enjoy them more). But this spring, Cirque du Soleil will introduce you to an entirely new type of performance.For the first time in the company’s history, Cirque du Soleil will explore the limits of ice in a new production, aptly named Crystal, that combines ice skating with their signature acrobatic feats. “The ice opened new doors,” says Artistic Director Fabrice Lemire. “Combined with music and the acrobatics,  a beautiful symphony.” The show is about an eccentric young woman named Crystal; feeling misunderstood in her everyday life, she ultimately finds her footing and turns her charming quirks and restless imagination into a creative force, radically changing her own narrative through writing.The company has long been changing the public’s perspective of the circus with different themes—Toruk is inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, Totem explores mankind’s evolution, a few shows are even inspired by musicians (Michael Jackson, The Beatles)—but ice was the one element they hadn’t tried. “You have to make sure that everything is in the right place,” says Lemire, who’s responsible for keeping the new format cohesive with Cirque’s other offerings; he motivated the performers to get outside what he calls “the black-and-white formula” (an over-repetition of acrobatics) and asked that they challenge themselves artistically to help reinvent the show on ice.As a key element of the show, the ice acts not only as the scene for flips, spins and ramp-assisted jumps—it also works as a projector screen, changing landscapes and acting as a significant narrative element. “It’s not just using ice as the stage,” says Lemire. “We had to make sure the acrobats had the same possibilities as the skaters.” Cirque du Soleil also asked esteemed figure skaters, including four-time Canadian champ Kurt Browning, to help with the creative process. “We  had to think outside of the box for costumes and shoe designs,” Lemire recalls.The crew just completed their 100th performance on a North American tour and will soon spend five days at the Abbotsford Centre. This unique production pushes boundaries of performance by combining the traditional circus disciplines with extreme skating for an adrenalin-packed show. “The marriage between the world of acrobatics and dance is very powerful,” says Lemire. “The dialogue really works—there’s something magical.”

Cirque du Soleil Crystal

April 11 to 15Abbotsford Centre, 33800 King Rd.Tickets from $