These flying wheels carry artists onto the stage from the rafters. On the ground, they're used as acrobatic props, something like giant hamster wheels. Says Nesbitt, "Every time you put a new piece on stage, everyone says, 'Oh God, what are we going to do with this?' "
Twenty different countries are represented in the cast of 44 (which includes only one American). The staging was so sprawling, the troupe had to relocate twice during rehearsal - first to a car-manufacturing plant and then, when that became too small, to an abandoned airplane hangar.
"This balloon is quite a technical thing," says Nesbitt of the delicate, complex contraption that floats the main character around the stage for most of the show. Controlled by a harness, the vehicle requires four motors.
For the first time in any Cirque show, the songs have lyrics, but good luck understanding them - they toggle among English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Wolof, an African language.
The projection space used in the show is equivalent to four IMAX theaters. The group did a 10-day video shoot prior to rehearsals, but camera operators also project live images laced with special effects during the show.
It took a little under a year to rehearse the show, which features 11 musicians. "We have a tendency to put musicians in the background," says Nesbitt, "but this time, we wanted to have extroverts, artists, and musicians ready to be flown around the stage."
Delirium’s soundtrack remixes 20 previous Cirque songs to create “what we call urban tribal beat,” says Nesbitt. This mix of techno and world music is performed by the house band, the Brazilian group Gaïa, along with a world-renowned lineup of percussionists.
’s show at Caesars Palace and has worked with Madonna, Ricky Martin, and Prince.
The end product may look graceful and effortless, but the process to achieve it is anything but. “Our creators have these incredible ideas, but there’s a lot of planning in rehearsal to make these creative ideas work,” says Nesbitt. It’s not always easy making people float through space. “You can have a balloon with remote control, but not if [the character] turns around and hits his head on it.”
For tour dates and ticket information for Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.