Many have heard of the incredibly exhilarating and colorfully unique show that is Cirque du Soleil. When you think of the three-decade-old entertainment company, you may think of high-flying aerialists, incredible showcases of strength and circus acts on steroids. You will certainly get all of that with Cirque du Soleil’s latest show “Crystal,” but you will also get the element of ice. Cirque du Soleil “Crystal” is Cirque’s first show that brings together ice and acrobatics, making this already-spectacular showcase more awe-inspiring than ever. Metro sat down with one of Cirque’s talented acrobats, Emma Stones, for the scoop on what to expect when “Crystal” comes to Philly on June 20.
What first inspired you to get involved with acrobatics and circus acts?
I grew up as a dancer and I did comparative dancing and ballet, too, which I like but the thing I didn’t love about it was everyone was very cookie-cutter. You kind of have to be the same in order to go far in ballet and I remember one time, when I was in ballet school, I saw a Cirque du Soleil show and I remember thinking, OK, this is the kind of dance I like. It was so unique, everyone was different and there was so much creativity — I loved that it’s what they reached for. So I auditioned for the National Circus School in Montreal because I found out that they had a school there, and then from Montreal to doing the circus. Every single person has something different to bring to the stage and they really embrace the fact that you’re different and that’s what makes you stand out in the circus world.
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Were you always interested in performing on ice as well or did working on Cirque du Soleil “Crystal” just happen organically?
Just in general I knew I wanted to work with Cirque since I saw that show, and in circus school it was my dream and my goal. There wasn’t one in particular that I had my mind set on, but when they reached out to me for this show, I just thought it would be an amazing opportunity and something that had never been done before. And with the aspect of the ice, it’s just also something so special. What I do is trapeze, and they told me I needed to do it with skates on. I love doing the trapeze, but knowing after a couple of years of doing the same thing that there was this new talent and new aspect was very exciting.
Did you have to do extra training for the skating?
I did, yes. We non-skaters, the acrobats, had class every single day with Kurt Browning and some really great ice-skaters in Canada. We had training every day to get better at skating, and then in the show itself the acrobats don’t do too much skating, but in the finale we’re all on skates. During the trapeze act I’m basically the stunt double of Crystal. So I come out on the ice with my skates on and I have to really make it look like I’m Crystal the main character. It is still kind of daily training to make sure I embody the same version of Crystal so people think it’s seamless throughout the whole show.
What do you think the ice element adds to the show?
It definitely adds an element of speed that we don’t have as just acrobats. In the first act, we have this [part] where all of the shadow characters come into Crystal’s world and half are on skates and half are on Crampons which are shoes that make it easier to run around [on ice]. It’s just really fascinating to see, and for the audience to see. You’re not too concerned with who’s wearing what on their feet but you do see people going really fast and some people going regular speed. It also adds an element of the unknown because it hasn’t been done before and people are used to seeing a Cirque du Soleil show with the acrobatic elements. When you look at ice, it just adds this other dimension and it’s a little bit unknown and scary but also really beautiful the way it’s been put together.
What stunts are you specifically performing in the show?
I do the trapeze act, and I also do the Pendular Falls. I’m [also] one of the acrobats who sees some hand-to-hand and choreography and dance stuff.
Overall, what would you tell audiences to expect from the show?
I would describe the show as definitely surprising and never been done before. It also has a really beautiful story that everybody, no matter what age you are, can take from it and relate to it. It really is beautiful and you add in all these acrobatic elements and all the skating and everything with our bodies — we are also telling a story. It’s something that people can really just relate to and be touched by.
Cirque du Soleil “Crystal” will be at the Wells Fargo Center from June 20-23. “Crystal” will move to the PPL Center in Allentown from June 26-30. For more information and tickets, visit cirquedusoleil.com.