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Journey to Varekai

Transporting the public into a universe where emotions are attached to acrobatics, Cirque Du Soleil Company delivers Varekai, an enchanting forest inhabited by unusual characters, right to the 209 at the Stockton Arena from April 15-19 for seven performances only.

The world of Varekai is a deep forest at the summit of a volcano where a young man named Icarus falls from the sky, loses his wings and hurts his legs.

In true Cirque Du Soleil fashion, the show will feature the traditional acrobatic athletic abilities of performers and other elements, however, Varekai will also tell a story that is very close to the creator, writer and director Dominic Champagne’s own experience.

“It is a story that is very close to him because I believe a year prior he created the piece after he fell from the rooftop and fractured his two ankles,” explained Varekai’s artistic director Fabrice Lemire. “He was told by the doctors and specialist that he may not be able to walk again.”

In Varekai, Icarus finds himself wounded in an unknown world and his desire to live trumps his fears, which takes him into a rebirth.

“Basically, what does he need to do to go on with his life?” added Lemire. “It is very much about, how do you adapt to a new reality, to new surroundings, to a new community and many of us do this.”

Lemire moved to the United States from France when he was 23. He did not know anybody and his English was very poor. However, these trials did not prevent Lemire from succeeding which he explains is similar to the story.

The other characters in the performance will teach Icarus how to fly without wings and walk without legs. They will help him embrace life and help him with a new way of thinking so he is able to move forward.

“It is very poetic actually when you look at the story and that angle,” said Lemire. “I love the metaphor of it and of course there is a small love story.”

Originally the Cirque Du Soleil shows were put on in the traditional “big top” circus tents. Approximately a year and a half ago they made the transition into staging the shows at arenas to reach a new demographic of audience.

Currently, the traveling group has performances throughout North America and in 2016 they will transfer the show to Europe for a few years.

There are about 90 people including artists, musicians, singers, crew members and staff who collaborate to bring this elaborate show of color, acrobatics and more to the audience.

“It is very different and it is a lifestyle and you embrace it, you love it, or you just walk away from it,” stated Lemire. “It is hard for everybody to not be able to go home every night.

“We are also what you call a touring family, living in the same proximity with 90 people so you have to be able to create your own space and find ways to escape. So my role is not only artistic director but I manage the people on tour.”

With only about six weeks spent at home in a year, the touring family is dedicated to bringing the audience an amazing show.

The creative team that brainstorms the costumes, music, lighting and all the special extras that make Varekai a magical performance put in countless hours of work and it takes a lot of people to make it happen.

As you may see a single character on stage performing a certain act, Lemire would like to remind you that it takes a whole team of people backstage like the riggers, programmers, stage manager, musicians and band leaders to create that fascinating performance.

“We forget because we just see the beauty that is in front of us while there is a whole network behind to support that act,” said Lemire. “This show is all about adaptability and transformation.”

It’s also a performance that can transform the audience, he said, as long as they let the story take them away.


Cirque du Soleil — Varekai


7:30 p.m. April 15-19; 4 p.m. April 18; and 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. April 19


Stockton Arena, 248 W. Fremont St.


$35 to $90, available at