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An Inside Look Into Cirque du Soleil's First Ice-Themed Show

For the first time, the recently opened Fiserv Forum has an ice sheet on its floor. But the occasion is not a hockey game, or even a figure skating competition - even though ice skates are definitely part of the mix. Cirque du Soleil’s first ice-themed show, “Crystal,” is at the Fiserv Forum through Sunday night.

The show features many of the aerial and acrobatic feats the Québec-based company is known for, but also involves multiple skating disciplines; figure, hockey, and so-called “extreme skating.” That means skaters have had to learn acrobatic work and gymnasts and aerialists have had to learn to skate.

During a rehearsal this week, Lake Effect had a chance to speak with people who came to “Crystal” from both sides of that equation. The first is Jérome Sordillion, a French aerialist and gymnast who plays a love interest for the titular character. The second is Scott Smith, an American former competitive figure skater who joined the production of "Crystal" as his first touring show.

Sordillion shares that his love interest in the production wears skates while he wears crampons, a type of shoe covering meant to gain traction on ice. Learning to do acrobatic movement with sharp spikes on your feet was not easy, he says, but even more challenging is the differing ways in which gymnasts and skaters communicate movement. 

"We don't have the same vocabulary, we don't have the same background. That was a challenge," says Sordillion.

Smith, however, says the more extreme skating was a fun challenge; jumping over another skater while on the ice and doing backflips. He admits that the moves and choreography are more creative and artistic than in competitive figure skating.

"These days in competition its quite rigid with the technical elements that have to be put in, so it's quite boxed in for a choreographer in a competition setting, but here, the sky's the limit," he says.

Both Sordillion and Smith will be performing in "Crystal" this weekend at the Fiserv Forum.