Cirque du Soleil promises unforgettable Riyadh Season show

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Cirque du Soleil Bazzar set up a white tent out of consideration for visitors, as darker shades would heat up. (AN Photo)
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Cirque du Soleil’s wardrobe team worked hard on modifying 15 outfits out of respect for the Saudi culture and traditions. (AN Photo)
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Cirque du Soleil Bazzar will bring in 32 performers of different nationalities to deliver 10 powerful acts for the Riyadh Season. (AN Photo)
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Lauren Joy Herley worked on Cirque du Soleil Sand during Saudi National Day in 2018, and she loved Saudi Arabia’s enthusiastic reactions during the performance, calling them ‘very vocal.’ (AN Photo)
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Lauren Joy Herley is loving her character, the Floating Woman, who is rebellious and a trickster, but has good intentions and loves to have fun. (AN Photo)
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Cirque du Soleil Bazzar will bring in 32 performers of different nationalities to deliver 10 powerful acts for the Riyadh Season. (AN Photo)
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Cirque du Soleil’s wardrobe team worked hard on modifying 15 outfits out of respect for the Saudi culture and traditions. (AN Photo)
Updated 01 November 2019

Cirque du Soleil promises unforgettable Riyadh Season show

  • Cirque du Soleil Bazzar tells the tale of a maestro and a floating woman who keeps disrupting him and a mini maestro who wants to take his leading role
  • The acrobatic performers on stage will be accompanied by three musicians — one of them can play up to 17 instruments

RIYADH: Set in a white tent at Riyadh Front, the international team of artists and crew behind the sensational Cirque du Soleil gathered to prepare for their opening night on Nov. 1 as part of the Riyadh Season.

The show’s publicist Nicolas Chabot told Arab News about Cirque du Soleil Bazzar, which will tell the tale of a maestro and a floating woman who keeps “disrupting” him and a mini maestro who wants to take his leading role.

“People come to see Cirque du Soleil shows to see acrobatic acts, and Bazzar will hold 10 impressive acts with 32 artists in the choreographed show. We have beautiful costumes and amazing music in what is known as contemporary circus,” he said.

That means there will be no animal tricks during the show. Instead, it will have a mixture of acts, dance, music and theater. “That is what Cirque du Soleil has been doing for 35 years,” added Chabot.

The acrobatic performers on stage will be accompanied by three musicians — one of them can play up to 17 instruments. But unlike operas and plays, the acrobatic performance will lead the music. The songs will vary from pop to folk and classical music, to appeal to all ears.

This is not Lauren Joy Herley’s first visit to Saudi. The performer who plays the floating woman, a rebellious trickster, in Bazzar was part of Cirque du Soleil’s Sand on Saudi National Day last year, and she is excited to be back.

“Last year in Riyadh, the audience was very, very vocal, and I am hoping they are this year too,” she said.

As an intimate show, Herley thinks that “it brings about a raw, energetic atmosphere that does not rely on projections and side effects but the individuals that you see bringing their presence and skill.”

She said she was very proud to present Cirque du Soleil to Saudi Arabia, describing her previous experience as “different but positive.”

In order to show respect for Saudi audiences and to the kingdom’s culture, head of wardrobe Alexandra revealed that they had to modify 15 outfits.

But that did not decrease the performers’ mobility. “We made sure the artists trained in their modified outfits, and everyone is really excited for their upgraded clothes.”

Rania Al-Ghamdi, from Jeddah, has been a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil and she pledged to visit Bazzar during the Riyadh Season. Part of her obsession goes back to the fact that the circus giants refuse to incorporate animals in their performances, and were against it from the start.

“They spread awareness by leading by example, a movement that is led by many nowadays, but they did it first,” she said.

Al-Ghamdi also likes that there is always a tale to their performances; it is not “just an acrobatic show,” the costumes, makeup, the story, the art and the effort they put into their shows are what makes them unrivaled.

“They dig deep and research, learn languages to create songs that tell the tale in a very artistic way,” she added.

Cirque du Soleil Bazzar will open on Nov. 1 until Dec. 7 to dazzle the Riyadh Season, before moving on to the Caribbean.


Lebanese artist Abed Al-Kadiri — ‘Today, I Would Like To Be A Tree’

Updated 18 September 2020

Lebanese artist Abed Al-Kadiri — ‘Today, I Would Like To Be A Tree’

The Lebanese artist discusses how he transformed his art space — Galerie Tanit, which was damaged during the devastating explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4 — into an open canvas, on which he created his 37-panel mural.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day of the explosion: I remember it from an emotional perspective more than a visual one. But if I wanted to give this day a color it would be yellow, because of the light and dust. As Lebanese, we’ve faced a lot of violent circumstances, but at least from my side I’ve never experienced such painful images around me.

“Today, I Would Like To Be A Tree” is a sentence I used in the middle of the pandemic. During lockdown in Beirut, we weren’t allowed to drive or go out between specific times. Suddenly, the world that we knew was no longer the same.

I started a ritual. At the peak of my anxiety and suffocation, I would go to a place that’s surrounded by a lot of trees, and I would sit there for a few hours. I felt I was getting back to nature, which has an ability to heal and absorb our aggression or pain.

His art space was damaged during the devastating explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4. (Supplied)

I started doing a pencil drawing of a tree on a big canvas and I felt how great it would be if I just transformed into a tree. It was a real wish — not just a metaphor. I totally forgot about this drawing until the explosion.

Days and nights passed in which I was going to the gallery to save the artworks. At night, we could not sleep, thinking of the people who lost their houses. We lost our friend, the gallery’s architect Jean-Marc Bonfils. You start to have this guilty feeling: I survived but they didn’t.

One night, this image came to my mind: I saw the gallery filled with my paintings representing trees. With friends, we started putting the cartons on the gallery’s two remaining walls.

Somehow, the mural represents all the windows that were broken in Beirut. From these segments, we can create this huge puzzle that people can buy in pieces, raising money and supporting people in Beirut. Each person will have a part of this major representation of, or reaction to, what happened.