Cirque du Soleil comes to Baltimore

'Dralion' set to wow crowds

The seats are empty. The lights are dimmed, and First Mariner Arena sits silent, waiting to thrill crowds with the arrival of Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion."

The two-and-a-half hour performance brings together the artistic styles of Eastern and Western cultures, including trampoline, juggling and aerial acrobatics. But before performers like Marie-Eve Bisson takes to the air in costume and make up, she must first perfect her craft backstage.

"My part is with a solo act," Bisson said. "I have only one character on stage with me, and it's the fire character. He's a warrior, and I'm the fire seductress."

Bisson has been with the Cirque du Soleil troupe for 14 years, but performing has always been her life. "I started dance at four, then gymnastics from 12 to 18," she said.

But it wasn't until she was challenged with choreographing her ballet-like routine for Cirque Du Soleil's "Dralion" that Bisson found her place.

"They had the music but no act, so I put an act together," she said. "I proposed it to Cirque, and they were happy, so they hired me."

Since then, she's been wowing crowds with feats of strength and agility. "I hang from my neck and then just one foot in the act."

Currently, Cirque du Soleil has 11 shows touring worldwide and 22 total shows, including its permanent shows in Vegas and Florida. The acts bring together a diverse cast of characters. "Dralion" has 54 performers from 18 countries.

"You'll hear bits of Mandarin, English, French, Spanish and Russian on a daily basis," said Julie Desmarais. "We grab a little of each language as we go."

And the shows grab the imagination of audiences around the world.

"When we were in the Dominican Republic, there were 9,000 people there," Bisson said. "They were so loud. I thought the roof was going to come down."

It's a similar reaction Bisson says the cast is hoping to generate when "Dralion" takes the stage at First Mariner Arena.    

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