Cirque du Soleil, the world famous performance group that melds high drama with amazing acrobatics, recently opened its first permanent show in Japan.
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Located at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, ZED represents another groundbreaking effort for Cirque and is the company’s second collaboration with Disney following the La Nouba show at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Recently, Blooloop’s Chad Emerson (left) visited with Gemma Segarra-Domingo of Cirque du Soleil for an exclusive interview on the origins of ZED.
Chad Emerson: Cirque du Soleil and Disney previously collaborated on the La Nouba show. Share with us how the decision to develop ZED at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort came about.
Gemma Segarra-Domingo: Cirque du Soleil has always been interested in having a permanent show in Japan. For the last 18 years, the touring shows in this country have been incredibly successful and the audience has welcomed us warmly. Therefore, for a few years the company was looking into different options to settle a partnership. Through our partnership with Disney in Orlando, we got to be introduced to Oriental Land Corporation, the management company of Tokyo Disney Resort. The location was perfect for a permanent show and thus the negotiations started. [At Tokyo Disneyland], the visitor can have a fully entertaining experience at the parks, the IKSPIARI center and the ZED Tokyo theatre.
Emerson: ZED is filled with amazing scenes and imagery. What are some of the innovations that this show brings to the Cirque du Soleil roster?
Segarra-Domingo: In ZED we find a big number of aerial acrobatics. Each act was designed purposely for the show and so was the acrobatic equipment. For example, no other show has automated bungees or a trapeze net that unfolds so impressively. We also have a character and at the same time singer suspended for most of the show and a high wire act that defies gravity. Juggling of fire torches is also a unique element in the show and the way the stage is revealed at the beginning when the vortex disappears is almost mind blowing.
Emerson: From a technical perspective, what was the biggest challenge in bringing ZED to the stage?
Segarra-Domingo: The two major challenges where, first of all to actually execute the set design and make it become a reality in term of scale and technical capabilities. The second one was to work in a team of Canadian circus experts and a Japanese construction company. This is the biggest theatre in Japan and no one had ever even dreamt of putting together such a huge structure.
Emerson: What was the creative inspiration behind ZED?
Segarra-Domingo: Francois Girard is a renowned film director. He brought to Cirque du Soleil amazing new id
eas and a sensibility towards Japanese art and culture through his experience during the filming of one of his latest movies. He was also inspired by the tarot cards when creating the characters. And together with the set designer, Francois Seguin, they put together frame to the ZED world inspired by the Leonardo Da Vinci drawings and the Renaissance historical period. The result is this imaginary world where the people of the sky (mostly female) and the people of the earth (mostly male) unite through the journey of Zed, the main character.
Emerson: The show building for ZED is also very interesting. What was the inspiration behind it?
Segarra-Domingo: The theatre design is inspired by a circus tent with huge glass windows to let the sun rays through.
All images: kind courtesy Cirque du Soleil.