A moving circus performance from Baris

SHEFFIELD gets its first taste of the worldwide phenomenon that is Cirque du Soleil this weekend when Delirium breaks out at the Hallam FM Arena.

Promising a multi-sensory experience using holograms, virtual reality, multi-media sound, theatre, dance, music and video projection imaging, it is the biggest show by the French-Canadian company since it was started in 1984 by two former street entertainers.

A cast of 36 artists – eight musicians, six singers, 11 dancers, eight acrobats and three actors playing the main characters – inhabit a 130ft stage honeycombed with traps and flying rigs so that they can materialise from the depths or float across an illuminated sky.

There are 540 feet of projection surfaces – the equivalent of four IMAX screens – showing images ranging from pre-recorded visuals to manipulated live feeds that create interactions between the show and the audience.

Being in this show with Cirque de Soleil is to be continually on the move in more senses than one, says principal dancer Baris Dilaver. “Delirium premiered in January 2006 in Montreal and we have been on the road for nearly two years, going to two different cities each week.

“When you work with Cirque de Soleil you live like a gipsy,” says the Turkish-born performer who had also lived in Israel and Austria before fetching up in North America.

“So I don’t really have a permanent home. You feel like a gipsy but it’s exciting and a challenging lifestyle. Your life experience has positives and negatives and this is good and will be a huge part of my life.”

There are 17 shows running at the same time around the world, according to Dilaver. They are normally performed in a big top, apart from the shows in Orlando and Las Vegas.

Dilaver is a trained classical dancer, starting from the age of 10 at the Turkish National School for Ballet and Dancing and making his official professional debut only two years later. From 1994 until 1997 he worked at the State Opera Ballet in Vienna and went on to become a leading performer and choreographer.

At the end of 2004, he was hired as principal dancer by Cirque Du Soleil for the European tour of their show, Dralion. How did that come about?

“I saw Cirque de Soleil in Vienna and I was fascinated and amazed at their style and decided to send them my personal CV,” he explains. “About a year later I auditioned in Berlin and out of 250 they took on three girls and one male – me.

“Cirque de Soleil style is acrobatic, it’s not a dance company but this is the first show which is mostly based on dance though it is still multi-media.

“We have a multi-cultural cast who come from different backgrounds and people bring different skills to the show. It doesn’t have one style of performance – there’s commercial dance, hip hop, jazz, ballet all represented. But we all have to learn a bit of acrobatics and the international artists train for nine months before going on stage.”

And where does he fit into Delirium? “It is about a man called Bill who lives in a bubble and has his own reality in two parallel worlds,” he says.

“I don’t have a specific role or character but I am in the first of the dreams which he sees and which guide Bill’s life.

“At various points I am a businessman, a tango dancer, a dervish. There are many different transitions, you can change your character and emotions – and interrupt yourself in a particular character.”

Cirque de Soleil are at the Hallam FM Arena on Saturday and Sunday.