Cirque du Soleil's newest production hits U.S.

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MIAMI -- The latest production of Cirque du Soleil, called "Dralion," is performing in a 2,500-seat tent on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami through March 18, prior to a New York metropolitan area engagement that will start April 4.

Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion," which premiered in April 1999, is slated to visit 17 U.S. and Canadian cities during a three-year run. It is the seventh production of the Montreal-based circus company.

Cirque du Soleil has won more than two dozen artistic awards worldwide for its dramatic mix of circus arts with inputs from the worlds of music, dance, stage design, fashion and street entertainment.

Soleil, the French word for "sun," in the company's name describes a huge metallic ring at the dome of the tent that serves as an acrobatic apparatus.

A group of four clowns, who do not wear traditional face make-up, won laughs from the crowd for antics reminiscent of slapstick comedy and street entertainment.

"Dralion" features 57 artists, garbed in stunning costumes, from eight countries -- including a house troupe of 37 Chinese acrobats -- performing in futuristic sets.

At the debut here, performers were given a standing ovation for their displays of daring and art. The two hours of acts, not including an intermission, have such titles as "Aerial Pas de Deux," "Ballet on Lights," "Hoop Diving" and "Double Trapeze."

After Miami, Dralion will travel to Jersey City, N.J., where the troupe's trademark blue and yellow big top will be set up in Liberty State Park for performances beginning April 4. Thereafter, the troupe will travel to Chicago and Boston for summer performances.

In the fall, performances are set for Philadelphia and Houston. A Dallas engagement has been set for the winter of 2002.

A major sponsor of the tour is Wyndham Hotels, which offers packages in the cities where Cirque du Soleil performs. For details, agents should contact Wyndham's reservations at (800) WYNDHAM or on the Web at www.wyndham.com.

Tickets for "Dralion" range from $38 to $60 for adults and $26.75 to $42 for children, taxes included. For students ages 13 to 17 and senior citizens age 65 and above, prices are from $33.75 to $53.75 on weekdays only. For group reservations of 40 adults or more, call (800) 450-1480, Ext. 616.

The company also is marketing a Dralion VIP package, priced at $160 for adults and $112 for children, which includes amenities such as admission to a tent serving refreshments.

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