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 Franco Dragone's work for the company was in The Nineties
, with its 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. A few 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 in North America and has been constantly touring since.
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 5 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, and foot juggling.
- 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.
- 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 such bonus features as a documentary short and the option to view some acts from other angles, Sony brought out a "Superbit" version that dropped all the bonuses in favor of using the disc space to maximize its sound and picture quality.
- Long Runners: The original tent tour made it past the 10-year mark; the arena version will certainly take it further.
- 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. And the one they pick on the most is a plant.
- The One Guy: One male god, compared to three goddesses.
- Prongs of Poseidon: The trident dance.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: As discussed in the book 20 Years Under the Sun, this is a partial explanation for why this show isn't as character/theme-driven as most. 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 decided to focus 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.