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‘Cirque Dreams’ show debuts at DPAC

Starting tonight, audience members will be able to witness the creative and often death-defying feats of an eclectic cast of acrobats and performing artists­—all at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

The downtown Durham theater is set to host the opening world tour of “Cirque Dreams Illumination” Sept. 15 through Sept. 20. The show, which is an offshoot of the Broadway hit, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, comes from a long line of colorful circus-inspired shows created by Director Neil Goldberg and his Florida-based company, Cirque Productions.

“Illumination is based in the ‘City of Illumination’ where everyday normal people do extraordinary things,” Cirque Productions Director of Marketing Erik Alden said. The show features 26 performers and more than 200 different costumes, with the acrobats and athletes performing stunts that prompted Alden to say, “I can only imagine how you can bend your body that way.”

The show’s producers chose DPAC as the site of the tour’s world premiere after Alden “did a little convincing,” he said.

Alden noted that in February, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy showed for one night at DPAC, and the “high demand [and] really great relationships with everyone involved with DPAC” prompted the company to continue its connection with the Center.

“The facility is beautiful. It’s brand new. It meets our sound needs, our technical needs,” Alden said.  

DPAC’s Assistant Director of Marketing Rachel Gragg, said the center has made solid progress since it opened in December 2008.

“We sold out over 25 shows in our past season, including [shows for] Steely Dan, Harry Connick Jr., Willie Nelson and...‘The Color Purple,’” Gragg said.

She added that the Center already has 9,000 season ticket subscribers—a 50 percent increase from last year—and hopes to reach 10,000 by the end of the Cirque run.

Gragg also emphasized the importance of looking beyond the statistics.

“I think we‘ve exceeded our goals as being known as a venue with great customer service.... We want [our customers] to have a good experience, and hopefully with a great experience, that will bring them back,” Gragg said.

On campus, the Center’s popularity precedes itself. Several Duke students have already purchased DPAC tickets at the newly opened Hub, which offers students discounted tickets to programs and events around Durham. Some students have already visited DPAC to see The Fray this past week.

“It’s a really nice venue,” said sophomore Jason Klein, who attended a Sept. 8 concert. He added that he was considering returning to DPAC for future performances.

Senior Chinwe Atkinson said she might eventually attend a show at DPAC, but added that it depended on her level of interest and the price. Still, Atkinson said she thinks DPAC is “already a success.”

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