ORLANDO -- The new Cirque du Soleil show, “Drawn to Life,”
will premiere at Disney Springs on April 17. Members of the media were treated
to a look at two of its early scenes this week, and if they are an indication
of the rest of the show to follow, it will impress audiences.
“Drawn to Life” is a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil,
Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Animation Studios. It focuses on the
story of Julie, a young girl who goes on a journey inside the world of
The preview scenes featured a rhythmic gymanstics group that
performed a routine so well-choreographed the audience broke into applause
multiple times, and an aerial pole routine that drew gasps and even tears from
some audience members.
A troupe of gymnasts perform during the opening scene of "Drawn to Life."
Cirque du Soleil creation director Fabrice Becker said the
gymnastics team hails from Japan. They join a diverse cast of 65 from all over
Their acrobatic act is meant to explore the physicality of
the body and movement, something animators often do when drawing, said Michele
Lapris, writer and show director. That act starts the show by establishing the
link between animation and physicality.
The aerial pole act is meant to pay homage to Walt Disney’s
Nine Old Men, the original core animators at Walt Disney Productions. The famed
animators include names famous within and outside of the Walt Disney Company,
like Marc Davis, Ward Kimball and Les Clark. They brought life to everyone from
Mickey Mouse to Cruella de Vil. Davis also lent his talents to Disney
attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.
During the act, a man uses a pole designed to mimic a pencil
to soar above the audience, spinning and performing gravity-defying acts that
are a delight to behold.
He does that among projections of rough animations from
Disney classics, like Tarzan, projected onto screens stylized as sheets of
paper high in the air.
Some of the cast and creators of Drawn to Life at a media preview. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
Lapris said the show designers wanted to pay homage to the “pencil
tests” used by animators, in which they create rough, two-dimensional drawing
of scenes. Cirque du Soleil worked with Walt Disney Animation Studios to
procure the original pencil tests used in the show. Coincidentally, at the same
time that Cirque du Soleil asked for the rough drawings, the studio was already
working to preserve the drawings that Lapris calls “gems.”
Famed animator Eric Goldberg spoke to media at the event.
Having raised two daughters in a household filled with art, the show naturally
appealed to him, he said.
Among many famous projects, Goldberg was the lead animator
for the Genie in the film “Aladdin,” voiced by the late Robin Williams.
He said the key to making animated characters believable
lies within the animators themselves.
“You have to believe that those characters exist,” he said. “That
Tickets for Drawn to Life are available now.