Putting on a spectacular, world-class show featuring acrobatics in the middle of the jungle isn’t easy.
For one, how do you support aerialists without an actual ceiling? “There is no skyhook; we cannot hang anything from the sky or the clouds,” says Gilles Ste Croix, creative director of Rhythms of the Night - SAVIA and award-winning co-founder of Cirque Du Soleil. Rhythms of the Night—Puerto Vallarta’s No. 1 dinner show—is located in Las Caletas, a secluded beach near Puerto Vallarta, only accessible by boat, posing unique challenges to the performers and crew.
But they rose to the task: Working with his team, Ste Croix procured the boom of an old crane to suspend aerial performers high above the jungle. While getting it across ocean water and through the jungle was tricky, the effect is magical. “You can barely see the boom because the sky is dark,” Ste Croix says. “A tumbler appears in the sky, and people say, ‘Oh, how did they do that!?’”
We sat down with Ste Croix to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on Rhythms of the Night - SAVIA, a stunning new show that draws on Aztec legends, local and international talent to create a Puerto Vallarta nightlife experience to remember.
How do you feel about re-creating such an iconic show as Rhythms of the Night in Puerto Vallarta?
I thought of it as a challenge. It’s located in nature—in the jungle, in the selva, by the water—and it’s really a beautiful site. And to do a show with acrobatics and dance in such a natural setting was new for me.
What is your inspiration behind the show?
Well, I always try to have an intention behind any acrobatics, to have more than just a circus show. In this situation, where we were located in the jungle, it needed something that anchored the show with the history of Mexico, so I looked for historical element that would inspire and I found this very old legend that goes back even before the Mexican civilization—the story of the Five Suns—and that was very inspiring. I also wanted to include in the show the four elements—the water, the fire, the air, the earth—and I thought this was appropriate as an inspiration without being too cliche Aztec. I wanted it to look as if we were coming to a village, and there was a display going on.
How did you select performers for the show?
I had to find people who could do fire, I had to find people who could do air element and to do tumbling. I looked in the cast that existed already; there are some very good dancers and acrobats, and I added some more. The idea was to get a show that inspired surprise and lots of “wow.” I selected contortionists from Mongolia—for me they are top in the world—and otherwise, I wanted the cast to be mostly Mexican.
How is creating a show in the middle of a tropical jungle different than a classical venue?
When you do a show in the theater, you control the environment. In the jungle, you are subject to the climate. So some days it was really, really hot, and it’s too hot for the dancers to walk on stage, so we had to wait for the sun to catch the trees and give some shadow on the stage. At night, if there’s dew or rain and everything becomes all wet, so we have to dry it off. All these elements slow down the process. The natural setting is a plus, but at the same time, you have to live with it. When it comes to nature, you have to go with the flow.
The show is always evolving. What are some recent updates you’ve made?
Well, I saw the show in November, and I thought that the end needed more. So I thought of adding just a little element with four or five tricks of acrobatics, with a guy flying from the Russian swing. We had the swing made in Montreal and sent here. We had a coach from Montreal coming to teach people; they worked for two weeks to prepare, then we used the crane for support because we needed the sky hook. We put this trick as the last thing of the show, then suddenly it comes, and it brings the people to their feet.
Why might someone want to see Rhythms of the Night in Puerto Vallarta?
The whole experience. If you are in a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, you look at the ocean and think, I would like to ride in a boat on this beautiful day. There’s a package: you go on a boat, and then you get to this very secluded little beach and you can have dinner with candlelight. And on top of it, you have a beautiful show.
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