“One Night to Remember” – A ONE NIGHT for ONE DROP Review

    “For years I roamed the planet as a street performer. Earning a living on the streets put me in touch with the poverty and distress of thousands of men, women and children. A little naively, no doubt, I told myself that the world would be a better place if its six billion inhabitants would all put on clown noses… In time that dream became Cirque du Soleil.

    “Today I continue to dream of a fairer, more just world, a world where every human being has access to clean water and can live in dignity and health. In 1992 we came to Las Vegas to grow a flower in the desert, now in 2013 I invite you to join me and all of the artists and employees of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas for ONE NIGHT for ONE DROP, a one-night-only spectacle that will be created and performed by the now hundreds of artists from all seven Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas shows, followed by a grandiose post-show extravaganza.

    “We are nothing without those around us – family, neighbors and fellow citizens. The only way to fight poverty and allow for sustainable development is to work together to share knowledge, experience and dreams, as well as human, material and financial resources. The wildest dreams can come true when we all invest our energy, willpower and creativity.

    “Please join me.” – (Guy Laliberté)

For one extraordinary night, and in an unprecedented manner, seven Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas resident productions became one for ONE DROP, the non-profit organization established by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté for the conservation of water. ONE DROP partnered with MGM Resorts International and Lamborghini to present “One Night for ONE DROP”, a global philanthropy event to raise funds and awareness to ensure that water is accessible across the globe. For one incredible evening, international leaders, neighbors, philanthropists, and global citizens came together to make a dream a reality – a world where every human being has access to water and can live in dignity and health. The evening featured more than 230 artists from the seven Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil productions (and other guest performers) in an once-in-a-lifetime performance on World Water Day, Friday, March 22, 2013, at the “O” Theatre at Bellagio Resort & Casino.


The show, an original creation of Krista Monson (Creator and Director), Yago Pita (Creative Advisor), JK Kleutgens and DJeff Houle (Music Directors), Moment Factory (Multimedia), Ruben Permel (Costumes), Sean Jensen and Donald Leffert (Lighting) and Roger Stricker (Hair and Makeup) amongst others, was divided into three acts: “Solitary Kite”, “What If The World Was Full of Water” and “Imagine If The Party Stops”, each featuring music from Cirque du Soleil’s repertoire and guest musical artists and other original compositions. While the dominant theme was water as the essence of life, the plot also charts the trajectory of Alex the Complacent, an artist who has lost his way and enters the world of Cirque to find and reclaim his artistic passion.

Special guest performers, including platinum-selling recording artist Jackie Evancho and performance painter David Garibaldi performed alongside the incredibly talented Cirque du Soleil artists to celebrate the earth as an artistic creation and highlight water as the essence of life. Victoria’s Secret model Orluchi Orlandi dazzled the audience in an original gown designed by Roberto Cavalli specifically for the performance. A breathtaking dance piece choreographed by Sonya Tayeh from “So You Think You Can Dance” and an original composition by award-winning composer Danny Elfman were also featured in the extraordinary extravaganza created and directed by Krista Monson.

To share the experience around the world (and for those of us who were unable to attend in person and/or unable to afford the ticket prices – ranging from $1,500 for an individual seat to $250,000 as a presenting sponsor), an exclusive broadcast of the full-scale production was made available for a week following its premiere. The production was filmed by 12 cameras to create a 90-minute special that, for a $5.00 or more donation, patrons could watch online between March 25th and April 1st. We here at Fascination watched the special broadcast and review that broadcast for you here (we weren’t able to attend in person either!)


ONE DROP – a non-profit organization established in 2007 by Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil – supports access to water and raises individual and community awareness of the need to mobilize so that safe water is accessible to all, in sufficient quantity, today and forever. ONE DROP USA, a 501(c)(3) public charitable organization, is its American counterpart. With its uniquely artistic approach ONE DROP implements site-specific safe water and education initiatives while allocating mission-related financing loans. Worldwide, ONE DROP’s ongoing creative projects also raise awareness about water-related issues and encourage smarter water practices. Through its mandate – “water for all, all for water” – ONE DROP has developed integrated, innovative and sustainable programs aimed at improving water access and management of this vital resource throughout a one-of-a-kind “tripod” approach based on the complementary nature of three components:

  • A technical component aimed at improving access to water and promoting responsible water management and preservation principles (i.e. provide water filters, install water capitation and drip irrigation systems, protect water sources, etc.);
  • A microfinance component for granting loans to populations who already have better access to water so they may start productive revenue generating activities (thus ensuring project sustainability);
  • And a social arts and popular education component designed to raise collective awareness as well as educate and mobilize the population on water-related issues. ONE DROP’s project sites include Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, India and Burkina Faso.

In developed countries, ONE DROP’s artistic, educational and engaging activities are aimed at raising individual and community awareness of water-related issues and of the need to mobilize.

The organization is overseen by an international Board of Directors Chaired by Founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté. The Executive Team is led by Catherine Bachand and includes extensive nonprofit and programming experience. ONE DROP is a proud signatory to Imagine Canada’s Ethical Code Program, a national standards program that monitors and supports nonprofits in Canada.

In order to provide water-access to more people, faster and at lesser costs, ONE DROP chooses to join forces with international and local partners to multiply the impact of its programs, avoid duplicating expertise, and benefit from complementary experiences. ONE DROP has also developed a distinctive intervention model based on clusters of countries. ONE DROP believes the impact of its actions must be felt long after the organization has moved on to other shores. By implementing projects in several adjacent countries, ONE DROP achieves critical mass while increasing efficiency and optimizing regional results.

And it’s working: from its inception, ONE DROP has significantly and sustainably improved the living conditions of 300,000 people worldwide.


The broadcast, available for one week only (from March 25th through April 1st, 2013), and only for a twenty-four hour period once you began watching, was handled by Cleeng, a relatively new company that essentially allows content from a website to be locked away behind a pay-wall, allowing for the monetization of such content. In our case: the broadcast video. For a $5.00 (or more) donation, those interested could purchase a code that would allow for the viewing of the video for 24 hours (from the moment you began playing it) and that’s it! Although at times I had some issues with the video stream (it would start out at HD quality, then taper down, even though I had plenty of bandwidth – it was the Flash aspect of it that really wrecked havoc with my system), for the most part the video and audio were excellent. Not to mention the camera work!

Here’s how the show unfolded…

Just like any Cirque du Soleil performance around the world, you’ll find clowns and characters of all kinds milling throughout the audience, warming them up and hopefully preparing them for what’s to come. In the audience this night were “O”’s clowns, lizards from Mystère, ushers from Believe and many of the Strip’s other Cirque show’s characters. Interestingly enough, though, rather than a soothing piece of music from one of Cirque’s Las Vegas productions complimenting the action, the “O” Theater was filled with the music of Pitbull. How strange it was to hear Pitbull in that theater! The contrast created a festive mood but it was not a Cirque-y mood… although it looked like everyone was having fun!

Just before the festivities began, Jerry Nadal – Senior Vice-President of Resident Shows – attempts to bring order (but the conga-line dancing Cirque characters are being rather rambunctious) and introduces us to One Drop. Then the lights dimmed and everyone settled…

“This planet is like no other I know,” Guy Laliberte begins, his recorded voice booming throughout the darkened “O” Theater. It’s a “solitary kite in the sky, a whistle in the dark, a song amid the dreary, a dance in the middle of the foot dragging, a dazzle of color splashed onto a dry wall.” Truly, this garden of ours is a gem, he continues on… a true solitary kite in the sky. The “O” curtain pulls back dramatically (as in the show) and is whished away to reveal a projection of the Earth from space, followed by scenes of Las Vegas, the desert surrounding the city and an Eagle in flight. On stage, the female Amerindian artist from TOTEM performs her narrative dance (to “First Incantation” – the opening song from ZED), using hoops to create static and dynamic shapes to evoke various animals and images in a ritual that symbolizes the endless circle of life. Though she does not showcase many of the forms seen in TOTEM, the dance is effective, helping bring us into this world of Cirque du Soleil.

Next, the stage disappears revealing the steamy water of “O”’s pool and a troupe of synchronized swimmers. The music has turned tribal, fast and furious, with the beat of a taiko drum accompanying. The swimmers – clad in silky-looking, silver-colored costumes – take to the song’s backbeat, churning up the waters with an amazing synchronistic performance. The performance is capped by the startling launch of one of the pack’s performers – out of the pool (with the help of a guide wire), spinning and spinning out of sight, spraying droplets of water everywhere. This was quite the toe-tapping number; if I wasn’t so fond of the original song (not to mention how it would wreck the original artistic vision) I’d almost like to see something like this integrated into the show.

The tribal beat is replaced by a slow, acoustic folksy tune called “Flake” from Jack Johnson (you can find it on his “Brushfire Fairytales” album) and an everyday man (our Alex the Complacent) sitting in his living room with all the entrapments of daily life: he’s eating fast food, listening to music through his headphones, texting and instant messaging on his phone, and playing a video game… completely unaware of the situation right outside his window. His life is turned upside down when he clicks on a video link one of his friends has sent, featuring a swim with a mermaid. The mermaid (water activist Hannah Fraser) takes us on a journey under the sea so he, and we, can experience the beauty of the mostly unforeseen world under the ocean waves.

For a brief moment, our guy is very preoccupied with the mermaid, but then something else catches his eye: a cocoon floating out in the middle of the water. Gyulnara Karaeva, the creator of the “Waterbowl” – an original discipline that reinvents contortion in the water (which you can see in Zumanity and Amaluna) – presents this unique act that would be quite at home in Cirque du Soleil’s OVO. “Hatching” from her cocoon affixed to a gnarly-looking tree branch, Gyulnara contorts and balances her way into our hearts. But as her abode begins to float away, our out-of-touch everyman falls into the water, washing “ashore” transformed into a buff, young man (the mermaid having helped him break free of the ties that have bound him to an unhappy past.) Now full of vim and vigor, the new Alex (Roman Tomanov) takes to the skies to perform a strapping, uh, aerial strap act – one of the most awesome acts of this nature I have ever seen (Cirque du Soleil, put it in the show, now!)

He is followed by a rousing scene called “Walk for Water”, a tribal scene intended to evoke the daily difficulties for Third World women who have to travel long distances (and through hars conditions) for their water supply. Performed to ZED’s bungee song, “Birth of the Sky”, the ensemble strikes quite an image – smartly dressed in flowing gowns full of reds, yellows and oranges, masked with bronze, and carrying large bronze pots – walking mile upon mile, becoming ensnared in a sandstorm, then finally rejoicing at finding the watering hole. One of the truly artistic pieces in the show. (It reminded me, perhaps rather unfairly, of the Lioness Hunt segment from The Lion King musical.)

As soon as they’ve collected their fill, Cirque artist Ginger Griep-Ruiz (veteran of ZED and now Mystere) descends from the skies to perform a rousing aerial silk number. In movements similar in nature to one she performed on stage at ZED (and to the same song, “Blue Silk”, Ginger executes a rousing number accompanied by violinist Geneviève Dubé (playing the solo parts of the song live.) Toumany Kouyate makes an appearance with his Kora (21-string bridge-harp), providing a musical backdrop to a scene featuring kids playing in a small water fountain – a scene evocative of the everyday goings-on in Africa. A segment entitled “Ballroom” is next, featuring a colorful ensemble dancing eurhythmic to a remixed “Spiritual Spiral” from Dralion (that later segues into a song called “Jabulani” by Paul Rincon. Bungee flyers (the Warriors from Mystère), tribal dancers (clad in traditional looking garb) and even a fashion show of African clothing (beautiful ensembles of patterns, colors and styles – including one headpiece with rather large and long pointed horns) make up this energetic piece.

They’re followed by artists Julia Lopatkina and Elena Solodovnikova who perform a duo contortion/hand-to-hand number on an ice floe with LOVE artists making an appearance as breakdancing penguins. The act’s staging reminds me of ZAIA, although the music is quite different. The production is then kicked up a notch with high-diving accompanied by a rocking guitar solo. The act itself is similar to how it is performed in “O” – successive dives with additional number of divers – culminating in four at a time.

Poet and Rapper In-Q takes to the stage next with an original ode to water, a five-plus minute slam poem about problems with water, people, and nations. Painter David Garibaldi from America’s Got Talent (who appears shipwrecked on a deserted island), makes a scene next. Energetically beginning to paint what appears to be “one drop”, he eventually flips his canvas around to unveil the face of a young girl to conclude his act. (The song here is “Light Through the Veins” by Jon Hopkins” found on the “Insides” album.) Next we find ourselves in the Amazon; the entire stage and theater comes alive to the sounds of samba (“Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes, found on the “Brasileiro” album) – are we in Rio for Carnivale? Yes! Capoeira and other traditional dance electrify the stage (and through the theater) while Aerial Hoops artists dance and spin above the water’s surface. A cleansing rainstorm (think “Aerial Cradle” from ‘O’) ends Act II.

Young thirteen-year-old Jackie Evanco (an American classical crossover singer featured on America’s Got Talent) singing the Simon and Garfunkel classic “Bridge over Troubled Water” while Eugen (character from “O”) plays the piano opens Act III. As the duo walk off the stage arm-in-arm we’re in for a more lighthearted moment: a clown act! In typical Cirque du Soleil clown fashion, the artist (Shannan Calcutt, from Zumanity) browses the audience for someone to pick on and selects professional poker player Jeff Gross to be her playmate. She takes him up on stage where a boat awaits the two of them. Reminiscent of the car clown scene in Quidam, she and the poker player attempt to be funny. It falls rather flat.

An interpretive dance by Spencer Novich from KÀ saves us from the clown act; a provocative performance with a touch of mime and a whole lot of crazy (but interesting; somewhat suggestive of John Gilkey’s Skywatcher character from Varekai). A string quartet in baroque-flavored dress accompanies a tightrope walker, joined a bit later by a burst of fire, supplied by Ray Wold. Then, a Native American proverb – “Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children,” helps usher in the last few moments of the show – a charivari – featuring a number of traditional Cirque (and gymnastic) disciplines, such as: Hand Balancing, Icarian Games, Aerial Straps, Clowning, Martial Arts, Swimming, Balancing on Canes, and more… with children the stars of these disciplines… all wrapped around “Hymn of the Worlds” from ZED, a very touching way to end this special one-night performance.


… is what Guy Laliberté wants out of his philanthropic endeavor here and he certainly has championed for one with ONE NIGHT for ONE DROP, an event that will now become an annual must-see in (for now) Las Vegas. From what we saw of the final production everyone at Cirque du Soleil (and those who came in as guests) out did themselves to put on a smashing show – we enjoyed it as a rousing one-off, but it didn’t quite invoke the same feelings we get watching a regular Cirque show. That was to be expected – it wasn’t a regular Cirque show!

Making it available for all to see via the internet, however, was a stroke of genius. Although the impact of the performance would be felt better live, allowing the production to be filmed and later streamed across the internet for just $5.00 a viewing was more than anyone could have asked for. Certainly the powers that be could have charged more but they didn’t, and we commend them here. Having the donation set as “low” as they did offered I think the best return for their digital investment and was a very savvy move on their part – we’d love to see more of this kind of thing in the future!

With ONE DROP earning somewhere around $5.3 million dollars you can bet we will. Next year’s ONE DROP event will be held at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, the future home of Michael Jackson ONE, Cirque du Soleil’s latest resident production. We can’t wait to see what the creative departments come up with next!