Cirque du Soleil: Crystal


Dates and Venue April 11-15, 2018, varying times | Abbotsford Centre, 33800 King Rd, Abbotsford


Reviewer Cassie Silva

The name Cirque Du Soleil evokes quality – no matter how many different productions you have seen, you know you are in for a treat. You might expect their new show Crystal to follow the predictable pattern that some productions have started to rely on. That expectation would be wrong, as Crystal is truly something unlike anything you have seen before.

The Abbotsford Centre provides an intimate and immersive experience for their newest story that revolves around the central character of Crystal, a girl who unknowingly embarks on an icy journey of self-discovery. The production begins with enchanting projections that weave a tale about a girl who does not fit into the cookie cutter mould of who her parents and teachers tell her to be. We learn that Crystal is misunderstood, a daydreamer who gets into trouble for being herself. Young Crystal goes skating and falls through the cracking ice into a parallel universe. The resulting spectacle could best be described as an artistic Alice in Wonderland on Ice.

While some productions seem more formal, Crystal is playful and the perfect show to introduce children to the wonder of Cirque du Soleil. As with many Cirque productions, the audience is kept entertained during set changes and even before the show starts. The “clown” role gets taken over by playful men and women who toss snowballs into the audience and encourage kids to throw them back. True to the company’s Canadian roots, the highlight of the first act is a playful ice hockey game that turns into an on-ice pinball game. While any Cirque production might inspire the little girls and boys of the audience to run away to the circus to become acrobats one day, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pint-sized skaters taking to the local arenas and joining skating clubs after being inspired by Crystal. Audience members were delighted by sequences where hockey players leapt over skateboard ramps and a character even began tap-dancing on skates.

We watch Crystal’s journey as she becomes acquainted with multiple free-spirited versions of herself, while societal expectations dance around them representing the dull corporate life of briefcases and office work. The most mind-blowing numbers were those in which ice skaters interact with and dance with their acrobatic counterparts in the sky. The visual effects truly steal the show. We audience members were transported to different scenes – an ice hockey pond to a sumptuous ballroom - in a matter of seconds. Along with a combination of recorded and live music and a joyous finale (don’t sneak out at “The End”…there is more to come….) these elements combine to create a jaw-dropping and uplifting two hour spectacle. Most impressive to me was how well-choreographed projections seemed to track the dancers’ movement on the ice, which turned out to be the ultimate canvas for the set and lighting designers to work their magic.

The highlight of Crystal is the Ballroom Scene, where our feisty heroine dances with an acrobat in the sky in a breathtaking aerial straps pas de deux performance. It’s the most empowering icy performance since Elsa’s power ballad in Frozen.

Perhaps most importantly to me, the opening night audience included some local underprivileged kids who were sponsored to attend. I can’t imagine anyone who needed to hear Crystal’s message more – that no matter what society expects from you, you can celebrate your individuality and uniqueness and forge your own path in life - than the young people in attendance.

Crystal is an absolute delight and a can’t miss production – it was truly “empowerment on ice” - if you don’t have your tickets yet, act now!

© 2018 Cassie Silva