Behind the Scenes of Cirque Du Soleil Crystal, In Pittsburgh This Weekend!

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cirque du soleil crystal
Photo: Courtesy of Cirque Du Soleil Crystal

The flexibility and grace of Cirque Du Soleil acrobats are impressive enough, but when you put these performers in ice skates, their movements become even more breathtaking.

Cirque Du Soleil Crystal premieres at PPG Paints Arena Wednesday, January 17 and runs through Sunday, January 21. This show marks the first time ever that the company put their performers on ice, merging circus arts with ice sports (think The Greatest Showman meets Michelle Kwan).

Local-Pittsburgh got a sneak peek at these performers rehearsing before opening night.

cirque du soleil crystal
Photo by Megan McLachlan

Cirque Du Soleil Crystal tells the story of Crystal, a misfit dreamer who falls through the ice on a frozen pond and is transported to an underwater world of her own imagination. There, her reflection alter-ego shows her a distorted version of her life and Crystal discovers her potential as a writer, with the ability to change the world. Ultimately, Crystal returns to the surface, breaking the ice, with new-found strength and zeal.

The show combines many figure skating elements (the jumps and spins will get you pumped for the Winter Olympics), while also utilizing juggling tricks and ceiling suspensions. At one point during rehearsal, a performer was lifted from a zipline and pulled across the length of the ceiling.

Acts in the show involve banquine, or high-level floor acrobatics using hands, that requires tremendous stability on the ice. In order to accommodate the slick surface, special acrobatic shoes were created with metal spikes and crampons on the soles to help performers walk, slide, and run.

cirque du soleil crystal
Photo: Megan McLachlan

Many of the performers in the show were acrobats before they were skaters, while others have a background in skating. The skates used in the show include figure skates, ice skates, and yes, even hockey skates.

PPG Paints Arena’s ability to accommodate everything from hockey games to concerts is matched by the versatility of the Cirque Du Soleil Crystal stage, which changes to a schoolyard, playground, giant pinball machine, and an office tower, thanks to video projections and props.

cirque du soleil crystal
Photo: Megan McLachlan
cirque du soleil crystal
Photo: Megan McLachlan

Cirque Du Soleil Crystal runs Wednesday, January 17 thru Sunday, January 21. Purchase tickets at https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/ or ppgpaintsarena.com.