It took hours of development to create a new language that combines straps and figure skating to obtain the results presented in the show. Beyond the initial workshop aimed at combining the two disciplines, ideas and talents were also merging.  

The initial exploration phase went down in our studios. We wanted to first observe the range of movements in order to understand the artistic language of figure skating. Thanks to a hybrid type of skate – a mix between a rollerblade and a figure skate – we were able to experiment with the combination of these two disciplines, and we did so without having to move to an arena… At least, not yet! 

The challenge is to seamlessly merge these disciplines together. We have to ask ourselves: what becomes possible when distinct disciplines are mixed together?

Marie-Hélène Martineau
Senior analyst, Design and Performance Development

An unlikely yet harmonious duo  

Crytsal, figure skating and straps - image
The duet : figure skating and straps

When we compare aerial straps and figure skating, we observe a world of differences, but also many similarities. For example, imagine a figure skater doing a pirouette: while executing the movement, she uses her arms to gain some speed and maintain her position. For the straps artist, the same kind of movement is made but with his legs.   

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Through observations, meetings and discussions, we improved the movements of the straps artist and figure skater in their respective environments. The goal has become clearer: encourage the artists to create harmonious and complementary lines. The key to success: exploring movement together.  

We must conserve the unique strengths of each artist, while at the same time fostering a common point between them

Sylvia Gonzalez 
Coach – artistic projects 

Expert help 

Kurt Browning explains how interesting it is to have an idea and to be really close to achieve it. Sometimes, maybe more than sometimes, it is a long process. The number of times you can change your idea, or twist it differently… 

Each discipline comes with challenges and particularities. Straps is a well-known discipline at Cirque du Soleil. However, the ins and outs of figure skating were unknown to us.  

To get acquainted with this sport, we went to meet Kurt Browning, quadruple Canadian champion and quadruple world champion figure skater. It takes someone who’s curious and openminded to work with acrobatic coaches and accompany artists in two different disciplines for this type of exploration. 

Bringing together these people for a short time was a rich experience in learning and in results. To quote Kurt, when we create something new, “we have the chance to change our mind or take a different path. There are many ways to get closer to our goal. It’s a totally natural process.” 

After weeks of exploration and creation, the result was one to remember. The superb combination of these disciplines found its way into the Cirque du Soleil show Crystal. 

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