Varekai: “Color and Cirque”

Sound & Stage speaks to Eric Gerard, production manager for Cirque du Soleil’s visually captivating show ‘Varekai’, ahead of its Dubai arrival.

After three years of absence, Cirque du Soleil is set to make a welcome return to the United Arab Emirates with one of its signature productions, ‘Varekai’. The show tells the story of a solitary young man, parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest and a kaleidoscopic world filled with adventures both absurd and extraordinary. The acrobatic spectacular has wowed close to 10 million audience members all around the world since its first premiere back in 2002, and now the colourful world of Varekai will come to life at Dubai World Trade Centre from Friday, September 16th to 24th.

With such a demanding production to organise, Sound & Stage managed to grab a few minutes of production manager Eric Gerard’s time before the show arrives in Dubai, where he explained just a few of the key factors involved in bringing the circus spectacular to the UAE stage.


“The first stop before our run in Dubai is Beirut, where the show has been loaded into 23 40-foot sea containers transferring in from our time in Spain. With only a few days in between our last show in Beirut and our premiere in Dubai, we will transport the entire show with two Boeing 747 cargo planes. As the last show is underway in Beirut we start to load the 75 plane pallets, weighing in at about 206,000kg total of gear to make the show happen. This includes everything from the office printer cases to the four 10m long carts holding the 300 individual trees that make up the Varekai forest.”


“Depending on the venue, the show has various timelines for set-up. In Dubai specifically, we will spread the setup over several days. The venue itself is not designed to hang the entire weight of the show. In this case, we will hang parts of the show from a ground-supported structure from StageCo. This itself takes a day to set-up even before the show arrives. Once the ground support is in place it will take 15-20 hours to fully load in the show once the planes arrive and are unloaded.”


“At Cirque du Soleil, we operate in a fast paced environment, but safety is always a top priority. Our technicians and staff are trained with first aid qualifications, as well as our continual training in show specific conditions and scenarios. We work together as a team to ensure that at any point in the operation of the show the scenarios are controlled and planned out.”


“Varekai is a very colourful show. Between the colour pallets used in the costume, lighting, and projection designs, it really creates a wonderful visual experience. The show uses various technologies to ensure the audience is always visually captivated in what their experiencing. One technology specifically is the use of BlackTrax. It’s a technology worn by the artists to allow their position to be tracked around the stage. This information is then translated by a computer to allow the automated lighting system to make sure the performer is followed and lit without the use of a manual spotlight wherever they go. It’s really innovative technology.”

{ SOURCE: Sound and Stage | }