is Cirque du Soleil
's thirteenth production. The original tent tour launched in 1999, and was directed by Guy Caron, who had worked with Cirque in its formative era back in The Eighties
Asian, and especially Chinese, circuses are famous for their skillful, creative acrobatics and acrobats. Many Asian performers and disciplines have appeared in Cirque shows over the years, and this show is specifically a showcase for them. (The title is a portmentau of "dragon", representing the East, and "lion", representing the West.) It is also simpler thematically than most of the company's work of The Nineties
, with a mostly-new-to-Cirque creative team behind the scenes, but still lavishly staged.
The concept: A Little Buddha turns over an hourglass and the four elemental forces of the world, each with a god/goddess — fire (Yao), water (Oceane), air (Azala), and earth (Gaya) — gather. This harmonious gathering to maintain the world's balance, guided by L'Ame-Force (the two singers), makes up the show. Three clowns occasionally disrupt the harmony and even spoof what they see, but all in all, all is well.
The show was filmed in 2000 during its San Francisco engagement. It was retired from tent touring in early 2010, but later that year relaunched as an arena tour and in that form ran until early 2015.
This show contains examples of:
- Belly Dancer: Oceane's outfit and style of dance seem to draw on this trope.
- Bilingual Bonus: Three songs: "Ballare", "Spirits", and "Ombra".
- Book Ends: The Little Buddha and his hourglass.
- Color-Coded Elements
- Air = Blue
- Earth = Ochre
- Fire = Red
- Water = Green
- Cut Song: "Spiritual Spiral", "Ravendhi", "Ninkou Latora". In addition, the show's primary leitmotif (which appears in the show five times!) is not present on the soundtrack in any form.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang: It's right there in the title and logo!
- Elemental Powers: A classical set of four are represented.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Aerial hoop, aerial pas de deux, foot juggling, and crossed wheel (the last arriving for the farewell leg of the arena tour).
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Yao is described as being the most morally ambiguous of the elemental gods, though this may just be because he's also a War God.
- Gold and White Are Divine: The Ame-Force singers dress in white for Act One and gold for Act Two, and the Little Buddha is always dressed in gold.
- Heavenly Blue: Azala the air goddess and her companions are color-coded blue.
- Holy Child: The Little Buddha, who according to the official website "possesses special powers that will allow it to eventually become an Ame-Force".
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Besides the standard DVD, which had a documentary short and the option to view some acts from other angles, Sony brought out a "Superbit" version that dropped all the bonus featured to maximize its sound and picture quality.
- Long Runners: 1999-2015, for fifteen-plus years total.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The eponymous dralions, lion-dragon hybrids.
- No Fourth Wall: Though there's little genuine Audience Participation; the clowns warm up the crowd by interacting with them, but it's pretty minimal. The one they pick on the most is a plant, albeit a convincing one.
- The One Guy: One male god, compared to three goddesses.
- Prongs of Poseidon: The trident dance.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: According to the book 20 Years Under the Sun, this is a partial explanation for why this isn't as character/theme-driven as most Cirque shows. Franco Dragone's style involved workshops with performers that got them in touch with their creative sides and from which characters emerged. Caron and his creative team quickly realized that the highly-disciplined Chinese performers brought over for this show weren't comfortable with this, so they focused on the quality of the acrobatic acts instead.
- Self-Parody: The final clown act is a threadbare parody of all the serious acts.
- Set Switch Song: "Spiritual Spiral".
- Singing Simlish
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Idealist all the way.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: The aerial pas de deux takes place between Azala and her mortal lover. At the end Azala reluctantly goes back to the sky, leaving the man behind. There's also a certain amount of subtext between Yao and Oceane, however they are kept apart by their opposite elements.
- Technician Versus Performer: The development of this show focused on the former over the latter due to Values Dissonance with the Chinese performers.
- Water Is Blue: Averted - since air is blue, water is green instead, though still with some blue tones.