Defying gravity – La Perle by Dragone
Concierge meets Tara Young, the resident artistic director of La Perle by Dragone, to talk about the visionary show.
Watching La Perle by Dragone is a visual feast, an experience that almost defies explanation – even if you’re running the show from behind the scenes like resident artistic director Tara Young. When the bubbly Broadway alum is asked how she would describe Dubai’s first resident show, she says: “The best way I can put it into words is not to describe the story, but to describe how it makes me feel. I experience huge amounts of joy. I experience sadness and a sense of loss. I feel quite a bit of fear and excitement too. At the end, what I ultimately feel is a huge sense of celebration, love and unity with all.”
It’s a big statement to make, but La Perle by Dragone is a big show, in every way. The creation of Franco Dragone, the man credited with the meteoric success of Cirque du Soleil, the performance takes place in a striking purpose-built theatre in Al Habtoor City. It’s an impressive 10 storeys high space with a special aqua-stage that fills and empties, with an estimated 2.7 million litres of water throughout the show, into a pool that forms the centrepiece of the theatre and the basis for some jaw-dropping stunts. The theatre seats 1,300 people, and is designed to offer each person an unobstructed view of the action on stage.
“I feel like this show is alive, and it’s magical, it has a heartbeat, and it’s always changing, like heartbeats do. That’s what you get with live theatre, and it’s wonderful.”
“What’s really interesting is that when you watch the show from a different seat, you’ll actually experience it differently,” says Young. “The seating arrangements of the theatre really offer a wealth of different perspectives, both literally and figuratively. That’s really a gift to the audience member. Because with a lot of shows, once you’ve seen them, there’s not really a need to see them again, but La Perle is so unique, every time you watch the show, you get something new.
Young knows a thing or two about live theatre, having been in the performing arts for most of her life. By the time she was 30, she had already worked on almost a dozen Broadway shows, including a stint with Liza Minnelli in Radio City Music Hall in New York. She later moved to more of a directorial role, eventually working with Franco Dragone in 2014, on a show in China. When it came time for Dragone to bring his vision of Dubai’s unique resident theatre show to life, Young was a natural fit.
Today, she oversees a cast of 65 of the world’s best artists, from 23 countries, and is in awe of their skills and dedication. During the course of the show, you’ll see them perform some unbelievable stunts, from aerial tricks on harnesses to gravity-defying acrobatics, with performers even diving into the stage pool from 25 metres high. The show also involves plenty of dance, theatre and even comedy. “These performers work so hard, and they are always trying to improve and get better every day,” says Young. “Each one is always learning new tricks and it’s wonderful to watch. I love seeing someone master a new skill.”
- Hundreds of people auditioned around the world to join the cast, which features 65 artists from 23 countries
- The aqua-stage holds a gigantic 2.7 million litres of water – enough to fill an olympic swimming pool
- Performers dive into the on-stage pool from heights of up to 25 metres
- They also fly around the theatre on high-powered winches at 15km/h
She adds: “It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite part of the show, because it changes every day. Sometimes it’s watching someone learn a new trick. Sometimes it’s seeing an audience member react to a scene in a new way.” Ultimately, Young loves to see the effect that La Perle by Dragone has on its audience. “Every day is a surprise, and I never get tired of that. I could never say that I’m bored at my job.”