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"Crystal" is Cirque du Soleil's first ice show. // Matt Beard

Review: Cirque du Soleil Crystal sparkles with beauty and thrills

Cirque du Soleil Crystal
Rogers Place; Until Sun., Feb. 17
Our Score
Cirque du Soleil Crystal

Crystal is Cirque du Soleil’s first foray into ice shows, and it is an exhilarating spectacle of elegant ice skating, exciting extreme skating, and edge-of-your-seat acrobatics. The lights, the music and set pieces all add to the grandeur of the performance, though the story is not especially captivating.

Essentially, the eponymous character, Crystal (played by various performers throughout the show), is a young woman who feels out of place among her family and peers, and spends a lot of time in her own head. She escapes her troubles with ice skating, but falls through the ice where she ends up in a world that is both familiar and alien to her. There she meets her own reflection who gives her the means to alter and effect the world around her—which is all just this metaphor for Crystal figuring out who she is and what she wants.

Honestly, the plot is pretty thin, and seems like it’s pretty much there to loosely tie together the different acts that unfold throughout the show. So if like at least one gentleman who attended the Edmonton opening night performance, you’re just not ‘getting’ the story, don’t worry about it. So long as you understand the basic mood the lighting, music and performers are attempting to invoke, you can sit back and enjoy the amazing feats awaiting you.

With so much to see in the performance, one challenge is sometimes knowing where to look. In some of the busier scenes, the lighting or other performers will help cue you in to where the real action is happening, but other times you’re on your own. One takeaway from Thursday night’s performance is that if an acrobat is setting up for a trick—either building momentum or fastening a harness—then there is probably something else happening on the ice you’re meant to be looking at, and the performers sent out to amuse you while this is happening will signal when it’s time to turn your attention back to the main event.

The two scenes that stood out the most were “At the Office” and “The Ballroom.” In the first, acrobat Lkhagva-Ochir performs a chair routine—piling the furniture ever higher and climbing to the top to balance precariously above the ice far down below—eliciting a chorus of gasps from the audience.

In “The Ballroom,” Crystal’s romantic interest (Jérôme Sordillon) descends from the roof on aerial straps, and the two (Crystal is played by Silja Ros Reis) perform an aerial/skate routine set to the Cirque du Soleil’s version of “Halo” by Beyonce. The performance is both technically impressive, romantic, and erotic.

Crystal also includes an entire hockey scene where the ice is transformed into a pinball machine in which extreme skaters rocket around, and there are numerous enjoyable ice dancing number.

So there’s a little something for everyone.

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