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“CRYSTAL”
Great Performances. Unclear story
By Iride Aparicio

Photos By  Matt Beard CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

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NOBAHAR DADUI (Solo Figure Skater – CANDA as Crystal

SAN JOSE, CA – In its only Bay Area stop, presented  by CIRQUE DU SOLEIL at the  SAP Center  from March 28th  through April 1st, its new show “CRYSTAL,” is a psychological-based story that transports the audience  to  the surreal  world of a young girl’s  mind, that we see represented on the stage with  different places, and a building that appear to be constructed with perfectly assembled ice blocks of different forms and  is constantly changing colors.

In its structure, “CRYSTAL” as a show, may be defined as “The merging”  of two disciplines completely different: Skating on ice and flying on the air. As such, it  presents  to the audience  the “imaginary" world in a girl’s mind, inhabited by a group of Acrobats, who had  mastered  the art of ice- skating  forward and backwards,  aerialists,  who perform on a trapeze in the ceiling doing body figures in the air, and perhaps, in the most daring act, an  acrobat  (wearing ice skates) who climbs a series of chairs which he places one on top of the other  precariously as he climbs to form a tower,  

Sliding in the ice, we see the Jugglers, juggling balls, and we also see a group of hockey players climbing a ramp  skating at full speed, and jumping from one ramp to another. At the end, the group also tosses Crystal’s body horizontally on the air and catches  her. Every act, in this show (because of the ice skates) is extremely difficult. At times, verging  on what we believe is “impossible.” to do.

Yet,  those of us familiar with CIRQUE DU SOLEIL's spectacles,  know  that “doing the impossible” has been  and continues to be CIRQUE’s trade mark .That  trying something “different”,  something never tried before is  the reason why each one of  CIRQUE’s  shows stretches our imagination.

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Analyzing the performances In CRYSTAL, we could say that every one of  the artists participating on the show, including the aerialists, athletes and jugglers, know  how to  ice skate well enough to skate forward and backwards, run at full speed, jump from one ramp to another and dance. The performance is professional. 

Where “CRYSTAL” may needs improvement is in its story. It is much too complex to tell it to  the the average Circus Audience, which include many children, without words. On opening night to the press. we could not even understand the words in the recording representing Crystal's thoughts,  because the words came out garbled.

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The show starts when after falling through the ice, (A good visual effect)  Crystal, (NOBAHAR DADUI)  a young girl who tells the audience that she feels out of sync at home, at school, on the playground, on the street, and on the city, is swept into a swirling vortex of wind and snow as her imagination wonders in a free-fall.  

After her fall, Crystal is caught in a warped, exaggerated version of her life. After reflecting on her life, and chasing away her sad flashbacks,which include visits to her school playground,  the ramps, the big city, the  poles, the underwater world, the office, Courtship, and a ballroom to name a few. she returns to reflection, and she decides to take control of her environment. As she does, she catches sight of her Reflection (MADELINE STAMMEN – Solo Figure skater - USA) who makes her realize that real-life is above the surface, not in her make-believe world. After this realization and for the rest of the show, Crystal begins giving shape to the impulses of  her soul.

As presented, Crystal’s  story delves  too deep into psychology for even the adult audience to understand what is happening to her, without words. So, while  the concept of a person struggling with her mind, may have sounded challenging, as it is presented on the stage in CRYSTAL the show, was not understood by the audience.

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Madeline Stammen (at left sitting down) as Crystal

Yet,  even without knowing about minds and psychoanalysis to be able to fully understand the story, the audience  enjoyed  CRYSTAL as an spectacle it is. We all agree that the presentation of he story, was magical, and that every one of the artists presented in the show is a star.