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Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion features feats of strength and flights of fancy

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If you think you are in shape, go to Cirque du Soleil’s production of Dralion at the Enmax Centre and be properly  humbled as I was on opening night, Dec. 17.

Dralions (Dragons and Lions)  show their balance. Photo by Richard Amery
 A fleet footed, international cast displayed beautifully intricate dance moves, careening, trampolining, leaping , acrobatics,  contortionists,  elaborate costumes and a lot more. There is a story involving the Four Elements — Fire (Yao) Dante Adela, Air (Azala) played by Kami-Lynne de Bruin, Earth Little Buddha and the Four Elements. Photo by Richard Amery(Gaia) played by Dioman Gbou, Water (Oceane) Tara Catherine Pandeya, Kála played by Jonathan Morin and Little Buddha played Marina Vorobyeva who appears on stage throughout the show, performs with the trampolinists and tries out hoop diving with a highly co-ordinated Chinese acrobats leaping in, around and through a variety of different sized hoops.

 The show opens with a trio of crazy clowns (Hayden Spencer, Michael Hughes, Facundo Gimenez)  who bring  “a member of the audience” on stage to play with them in an array of hilarious bits of frolic and physical comedy. The lead clown looked like Back to the Future’s Doc Brown with wild and crazy white hair.
The show draws a lot from the traditional Chinese circus tradition which focus on feats of human strength, coordination, flexibility and lots of endurance.

In addition to  being impressively athletic, it is downright beautiful.
 The athletes/ performers have impeccable balance and definitely don’t have a fear of heights. They hang from ribbons and hoops hung high above the Enmax Centre floor, they defy gravity and death itself, at least for the uncoordinated.

Cirque Du Soleil’s acrobats. Photo by Richard Amery
 One performer, Marie- Éve Bisson, hung from a hoop just by the nape of her neck and that was just one of the more amazing performances, which is saying something about the quality of the show. I don’t know how one person can contort themselves like that.

She hung from the hoop with almost every part of her body, spinning around and around upside down. It pretty much gave me vertigo just watching it . A duo — Tarek  Ramino and Kami Lynne Bruin performed sexy gravity -defying moves on a pair of straps.

 Probably the most impressive part of the first half of the show was the trampoline act.

Not only did the trampolinists leap from the top of a veritable skyscraper set on stage onto trampolines set far below and onto a variety of platforms attached to the wall and across the stage to another trampoline, but they literally walked up the walls to the top of the stage.


New West celebrates old favourites with new show Jubilee

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New West Theatre winds up their  25th anniversary season with Jubilee: the Best of New West, Dec. 15-Jan. 3 at the Yates Theatre.
 They are bringing out all of the stops, bringing back favourite musical numbers and comedy from over the past  25 years as well as beloved former members who have gone on to pursue careers in music like Kyle Gruninger and Jason Poulsen.
 Both have been back to Lethbridge with their own projects as well as to perform with New West Theatre, though not together since they started in New West.

Kathy Zaborsky leads the cast in vocal rehearsals. Photo by Richard Amery“Christmas time is a good time to come home,” said Kyle Gruninger, who has returned home for the past three New West Christmas shows in between working with his metal band Incura.
“My family and friends are here and I get to perform with my best friends,” he said.

 He is excited to perform with Jason Poulsen who, like Gruninger, also moved to Vancouver to pursue music with his band Jason and the Diatonics.
“He started in New West 10 years ago when I did. Jason is one of my best friends. It is a lot of fun. It feels like old times, he continued adding even though they are just beginning rehearsals, he is already looking forward to singing “ Stairway to Heaven” with New West mainstay Erica Hunt as well as hearing her singing “ Midnight  Train To Georgia.”

“ I think we’re all very excited about that,” he continued.
He noted putting vocals together for a New West show is an intense process which begins with music director Paul Walker.
“ Paul writes out the vocal parts. He really takes the time,” he said adding he put a lot  of work into turning Led Zeppelin’s  classic “Stairway to Heaven into a duet.

“‘Stairway to Heaven can be anywhere from seven minutes to 10 minutes or longer. He put a lot of work into it. The guitar solo is there for the amazing Scott Mezei to play. And Paul arranged the vocal parts so they fit the New West style as a duet,” he continued.
Kathy Zaborsky has been vocal director for New West Theatre’s Christmas shows for 16 years.

“The biggest challenge is we don’t have as much rehearsal time as we usually do. We have two-and-a-half weeks for the show when we usually have three weeks,” she said adding musical arrangements are different each time, playing to the strengths of the cast members’ voices.


Zojo Black is back with new CD and new sound

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Zojo Black is back with an all star cast for their second CD “ Imagine.”Greg Gomola is proud of Zojo Black’s new CD “Imagine.” Photo by Richard Amery

 Zojo Black is a Lethbridge blues rock band fronted by guitarist/ vocalist Greg Gomola, who used to play lead guitar with Paul Kype and Texas Flood so he decided to get his friends from Texas Flood involved with his self produced and self recorded CD.

 It features former Texas Flood guitarist Steve Keenan and Paul Kype plus Texas Flood keyboardist Earl MacAuley plus bass from Tyson Maiko, drums from Brady Valgardson and Brad Valgardson plus extra percussion from Brad Brouwer and extra guitars and vocals from Tim Mulgrew, Gary Wittenbole and Greg Melvin.

Gomola “Imagine” is markedly different than working with Paul Kype and Texas Flood.
“It’s the same but also a little different. My music is more blues rock,” he said adding it is also different than the band’s 2011 debut.
“ I wrote all of the songs on this one,” he said noting on the last CD, the band covered Deep Purple’s hit “ Hush,” which ended up giving the band a lot of exposurea.
“ I write songs that are expressive and personal,” he said.

“I did everything with this one. I bought the iMac and rented Taylor Ackerman’s studio at the Farm. I even did the album art,” he said.
“It was a bit of a learning curve, but  we’ve been getting very good feedback on it,” he said.
“ I think the new album is more professional sounding. I concentrated a lot more on song structures. They are a little more focussed,” he said.


This week features old friends and tribute bands

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As Christmas approaches, arms full of presents and bulging credit card bills and  bellies full of  eggnog and ears full of Christmas carols, the live music scene really slows down for touring musicians. On the other hand, that means there is room for a lot of local music.

 This week, Paul Kype and Texas Flood host the open mic at the Slice, Dec. 16, playing all the blues and rock you can use. The Slice brings in Jesse Northey to host the open mic on Dec. 23. And the Slice  has their monthly jazz jam with HBO3  on Dec. 17. There is no cover for either  show.The Shaela Miller Threesome plays the Slice this week. Photo by Richard Amery

  Lethbridge country/ folk trio The Shaela Miller Threesome return to the Slice on Dec. 19 with Treeline. There is a $10 cover for the show.
 The Slice will rock on Dec. 20 with Lethbridge alternative rock band the Void plus The Ruby Plumes, Moose Jaw rock band Johnny 2 Fingers and the Deformities and alternative rock band Fox Eyes.

 The Owl Acoustic Lounge  has a mellow weekend planned with with Lethbridge folk duo Birch Barks featuring Eric  Den Haan and Dillon St. Jean. They will be joined by Unbroken Circle aka a solo acoustic project by Eric  Den Haan.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge also beings in  country music with local country band  Hurtin’ on Dec. 20.

For more rocking country, Casino Lethbridge brings back  Three Hills based country band the Dean Ray band this weekend
If you like jazz music, Dana  Honey returns to the Mocha Cabana this week and in addition to their regular  Thursday  night gig at Plum, HBO3 will be joined by Mwansa Mwansa and Aaron Collier for a night of  R and B, jazz and pop music at Plum, Dec. 20.


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About L.A. Beat

L.A. Beat is Lethbridge, Alberta's only online arts and entertainment magazine.

It is designed to support music, art, drama and other cultural endeavours in and around the city.

It will start out as an online presence and then evolve into a print edition which will be distributed at numerous locations in the city.

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