Kelly Lamano

Cirque Dreams Holidaze is switching up the holiday season. Classical carols and gingerbread men are getting an entertaining, artistic update. This theatrical spectacular is coming to the Lakeland Center on Nov. 21.

Students have the opportunity to receive a discount of $8.50 off any ticket purchased for the show. Dancing ornaments, gingerbread cookies doing back flips and reindeers soaring in the air, all in costume are just a few of the many exciting acts to look forward to.

Creating Cirque Dreams

The alluring Holidaze show has been wowing audiences for five seasons now. The show includes colorful costumes that shine and sparkle, displaying a combination of holiday spirit and acrobatics.

The founder and producer behind all of the holiday spirit is established director Neil Goldberg.

Photo courtesy of Jenn Sierra-Grobbelaar.

“My inspiration for everything I create and direct is my passion for life,” Goldberg said. “I’m very attracted to the philosophy of what can be as opposed to what really is. I think that goes hand in hand with the word ‘dream’ because I think that’s what dreams are about. It’s about the possibilities of what you conjure in your mind.”

Through directing and producing the shows, Goldberg is always traveling and has met many performers from other countries, all of whom contribute to the franchise shows. He says this experience has been the most rewarding because of the opportunity to interact with and learn from other artists.

“They’re so inspirational to me because they’re so disciplined and so focused,” Goldberg said. “They become inventive with their mind, and the talented aspect of their spirit and soul. Those things really inspire me.”

Bringing Holiday Spirit to the Stage

Ornaments on Tree

There are about 150 performers and 50 employees involved in production, such as electric work and costume design. The show is said to be less of a circus expression and more of a Broadway-inspired creation.

Goldberg says he has been fascinated by the sparkle, color and imagination of tinsel and Christmas ornaments since a young age. He describes Holidaze as a “90 minute holiday card.”

“It showcases everything that you think of from when you were a child, to how you celebrate the holiday season today,” Goldberg said. “It’s fascinating for me to now see how people appreciate the same things I do. Regardless of what your religion is, [the show] is festive, it is colorful.”

Throughout the past 20 years, the company has grown in size and continues to expand with its elaborate acrobatics. Times have changed since the company was born with advances and obsession in technology. It’s more difficult nowadays to keep the audience’s attention with smartphones, business obligations, and the stress of checking off items on a daily to-do list.

Photo courtesy of Jenn Sierra-Grobbelaar.

“There are so many distractions with social media. Things change so quickly because I think audience’s attention span demands that,” Goldberg said. “I don’t think that an audience member can sit and watch something transpire unless it is the most unique and amazing thing they have ever seen.”

Holidaze features an original score and intricate costume designs. The lively show highlights snowmen balancing, penguins spinning gracefully, reindeers twirling in the air, and toy soldiers tumbling on tight ropes. Each show is different, taking about a year to produce each one. It is in its fifth season with three tours: two in North America, one in Mexico.

“The concepts of the shows are the same, but no two shows are the same,” Goldberg said. “The framework of Holidaze tours is the same, but the content from tour to tour varies in each tour, as well as each season.”

The performers will be headed to Lakeland on Nov. 16 to practice on stage. They will prepare themselves mentally and physically for the performance, and take in the scenery and historical aspects of the town.

Preparing for the Performance

Before the shows, the team travels to the performance’s destination, becoming comfortable with the production, the stage, the choreography and the costumes.

Photo courtesy of Jenn Sierra-Grobbelaar.

The artists and performers complete morning workshops with warm ups, dance and acting lessons. Around mid-day, the acrobats stretch and warm up in local gyms to maintain their physical stature.

About 3 hours before the show, there are more intense workouts and safety checks. The last step is the aesthetics of the performance with stage setup, makeup and costume. Goldberg says that one of the most important aspects of the show is connecting with the audience. After all of the music cues, costume design, lighting, electrical components and acrobatics are in place, the most important goal is attracting and immersing the audience.

“When I watch the shows, I have one eye on the stage, and the other eye is on the audience,” Goldberg said. “I think of how we’re going to relate to these people when creating these shows. I hope that the audience experiences something that transports them away from the everyday stresses of life.”

The message of Cirque Dreams is to provide a pleasant place for performers, creators, audience members, anyone and everyone involved. It is an imaginative escape from the worries of life and its obligations.

“Cirque Dreams is a place, a show, a concept where people can express themselves and not feel as if they are out of place,” Goldberg said.