Inside Cirque de Soliel’s ‘Dralion’

Dralion, the 12th installment from Cirque du Soleil, fuses the French-Canadian troupe’s avant-garde style with ancient Chinese circus tradition. The show opens a five-week engagement Thursday in Orange County at the Irvine Spectrum Center, the second stop on a 17-city North American tour. Come take a closer look under the big top:

Dralion, a mythical beast, blends the traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances

Performers scoot under stage on “skateboards,” enter through 11 trap doors

Riggers, performers reach the Grid ring via catwalks


Sun ring raises, lowers, rotates and tilts, serves as an acrobatic apparatus

Lantern ring lowers during intermission, encircles stage with curtain

Shock-absorbing stage

7-piece live band improvises to keep pace with performance


Acrobats flip, spin, bounce on futuristic metallic wall

Performers coun terbalance each other tethered by single rope

Twin pulleys

wall height 25'

4 spotlights follow action

Nearly 300 lights

52 sound speakers



Aerial warmup area

Exercise area for stretching, weight lifting, bike riding

Costume, head dress and prop departments

Performers’ dressing trailer with makeup mirrors

Closed-circuit TV monitors action on stage

Hand balancing -- Contortionist balances on one hand, constantly changing positions without touching the ground

4 inch-square wooden block

1) Stake--feet straight up


2) Angle--legs perpendicular to stage

3) Frog--knees bent

4) Cross--legs split

5) Switch--Shift to left hand

Big Balls -- Acrobats walk, jump and flip on giant wooden balls

Back flip from ball to stage

Front flip from ball to stage

Jump split and land on ball

ball heights 4' and 2'

ball weights 180 lbs. and 90 lbs.

Ballet on Lights -- Ballerinas perform on pointe atop rows of lightbulbs

Blossom -- Three dancers form a pyramid with their legs while a fourth performs a handstand on top

Cupped toe balances on 3-inch-wide glass lightbulb cover

Bamboo Poles -- Performers somersault, balance bamboo poles while simultaneously jumping over spinning flag

pole height 16'

Hoop Diving -- Acrobats dive, fly like arrows through wooden hoops

1) Through both middle hoops

2) Through middle hoop, then lower hoop

3) Through upper hoop, then lower hoop

4) Through lower hoop, then upper hoop

hoop sizes 30" and 24"

distance 4'

Pas de Deux (Two Pair) -- Intertwined couple performs an aerial dance while flying over the stage on long bands of silk


Skipping Ropes--7 performers skip in time with 5 overlapping ropes

anchor element

Crew spends 2 days disassembling 180,000-square-foot traveling stage show, 7 days reassembling tents, stage, 720 tons of equipment

54 performers (includes 7 musicians, 35 Chinese acrobats)

85 crew members

41 big rig trailers

ticket info


Engagement -- Dec. 2 - Jan. 16 (dark Dec. 24 - Jan. 3)

Shows -- Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m., dark Mondays (One show only at 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, 3 and 23)

Tickets -- Adults $34 to $55, Children $23.75 to $38.50, Seniors $30.50 to $49.50

By phone -- (800) 678-5440

On the web --

Sources: Hoop diving/ball balancing coach Hao Zhao Bao, lightbulb ballet/hand balancing coach Zhang Yan, rope skipping coach Zhao Tian Yun, Pas de Deux performer Juliana Neves, interpreter Xu Zhi Jie, spokeswoman Chantal Blanchard

Graphics reporting by BRADY MacDONALD and RAOUL RANOA / Los Angeles Times