The Echo show, formerly known as Under One Sky, will finally be presented under the Cirque du Soleil marquee in two weeks — three years after its scheduled premiere date. La Presse was able to see three excerpts from this acrobatic play directed by Mukhtar Omar Sharif Mukhtar.
Since Mukhtar took over the play (last November), the name of the show has changed — Echo — half of the acrobatic numbers have been revised, but the original concept, the narrative framework, the scenographic element — a huge moving cube — the music, masks and costumes have remained the same.
“The protagonist Future (Louana Seclet, Washington trapeze specialist) embodies the youth of today, aware of everything that is happening in the world, says Mukhtar, on the sidelines of the presentation of the three issues of Echo. So the show is all about this idea of connection, unity and working together to create a better world. »
The creative team worked on this paradox that despite our connection — unmatched in today’s world — we have never been so disconnected from our planet. The gradual estrangement of humans from nature and the animal world is thus at the heart of the concept of Echo, which will bring together 48 artists, including seven musicians, on stage.
A cellist begins to play through stage smoke. At the same time, the famous cube imagined by the scenographer Es Devlon slowly moves forward. Inside, two acrobats with animal masks (Taras Hoi and Antino-Tisson Pansa) perform a soft wire number above a base from which flames come out.
During their number, the cube turns slowly on itself. Luckily it doesn’t stop, because one of its tall columns would obstruct your view.
This first issue unveiled by the creators of Echo “explores the notion of survival and the thin line that separates life from death”, explained the director by way of preamble.
“The cube is a huge object, he said afterwards, so it was definitely a challenge to integrate it into the staging so that it was at the heart of the show without being bulky. We play inside, outside, we use the cube as a projection surface, and for a structure of this volume, I find that it moves quite well. »
The second number shared by the Cirque features a contingent of ten Ethiopian acrobats, who perform hand-to-hand, banquine, human towers, pyramids and other ground-to-air acrobatics. All this to the tunes of festive music, with pastel-colored costumes. A segment that illustrates “crazy youth, excitement, risk-taking”.
The Cirque teaser ended with an aerial duet featuring two artists, Charlotte O’Sullivan and Penelope Scheidler, suspended by their hair. A number that evokes “magic” when one takes the trouble to “dwell on nature and the animal world”.
A little over three years ago, Cirque du Soleil invited the media for a meeting with English set designer and director Es Devlon, who laid the foundations for this acrobatic show centered on “the symbiotic relationship between humans and animals “.
Mukhtar Omar Sharif Mukhtar — who notably played for eight years in the show LOVE, The Beatles, in Las Vegas and directed the show Messi10 — had been hired at the end of the course to support Devlon, whose work with the acrobats does not did not evolve to the satisfaction of the Circus.
Then the pandemic hit. And everything stopped. When the creation of the show restarted, Mukhtar took over the reins alone, with the support of veteran creative director Chantal Tremblay.
Today, the English director, of Somali origin, who has lived in Montreal for six years, is eager to see the reaction of the spectators. “It’s a show we’ve been working on for so long, so it’s going to feel good to finally bring it to an audience. »
Echo is Cirque’s first big top creation since Volta in 2017. A 2.0 version of the acrobatic piece Alegria was however presented in April 2019.