17th May 2021
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Le Rêve in Las Vegas: A Tribute

Le Rêve in Las Vegas - a Tribute
By Liam Klenk

August 2020, it was announced that Le Rêve in Las Vegas will go permanently dark. Le Rêve (“The Dream”) is and was not just any show. This is a tribute to a dream, a vision, a milestone, and a pioneering effort that ushered in, alongside “O” a new era of aquatics shows. This is a tribute to a show which mesmerized audiences for 15 years. And, most importantly, a tribute dedicated to the creators, cast, and crew of this unforgettable masterpiece.

Franco Dragone had a dream. He had already begun realizing it with O, by Cirque du Soleil. His first aquatic creation. But, he dreamt of more. He dreamt of stretching the limits, of changing the world of circus shows forever.

Le Rêve premiered on May 6, 2005.
In its own custom built 1’500 seat, aquatic theater-in-the-round. At the Wynn, in Las Vegas.

Le Reve Premiere in 2005

Aquatic circus shows were nothing new. The first ones in history go back as far as the Roman Empire when the Romans flooded their Colosseum with water to stage sea battles for their audiences.

Custom-built aquatic theaters were also nothing new. They go as far back as the 19th Century. The first aquatic theater was custom-built in 1886: the Nouveau Cirque in Paris.

What Franco had started to do with O, and continued doing even more with his own production Le Rêve, however, was to revive and revitalize a genre which had become virtually extinct. He breathed new life into aquatic shows. Made them daring and vivid, unsettling, energized, romantic, and sensual, all at the same time.

Le Reve, Fire and Water

In Le Rêve, performers, fire and water were entwined in a spell-binding choreography. Telling the story “of a woman who see-saws back and forth between her duelling desires for love and passion, mind or body as she finds herself attracted to two men. Put into a dream world to help her decide between the two suitors, she embarks on a mystical journey.”

Le Rêve still had classic circus elements, yet these were interwoven with the powerful choreography of Giuliano Peparini, and a theatrical element as well, which went beyond the world of circus.

Franco believed anything was possible. There were no limits to his imagination.

No limits

The show included dance, synchro swimming, aerial acrobatics, acrobatics, and high diving performances. The theater’s moving lifts, geysers, jets, and pyro effects turned the stage into a separate universe. A realm of dreams to immerse all your senses in as a spectator.

Le Rêve was home to a cast and crew of almost 300 people. Over the years, many came and went. Many also stayed. Each and every one of them imbued their show with soul through their tireless efforts, their teamwork, passion and dedication.

Since Le Rêve first launched, the popular production performed close to 7’000 shows until Las Vegas’s entertainment shutdown in March 2020.

Permanently dark

Now, Le Rêve has been closed for good, and all who called it home are out of work. The masterpiece has gone permanently dark. A great loss for the global entertainment community as well as for all future visitors of Las Vegas.

But, Le Rêve will always be remembered as one of the most magical productions of our times.

On August 15, 2020, the Las Vegas Sun wrote, “Le Rêve, the first large-scale Las Vegas production show to permanently close due to the corona virus pandemic is one of the most acclaimed performances to ever hit the strip.”

Le Reve masterpiece

The show has won many awards.

For a record number of 9 consecutive years, it also held the title of “Best Production Show in Las Vegas”, by the Southern Nevada Concierge Association.

It was one of its kind. We will never forget it and all those that made it happen over the years. The show came alive and stayed alive through your vision and hard, consistent, high-quality work. Hats off to all of you. Our deepest respect to the creators and the entire cast and crew of Le Rêve!

Deepest respect

Stage managers and performers from the Las Vegas show family, past and present, remember Le Rêve:

Sharon delPilar, a seasoned stage manager in Las Vegas:

“The news of the permanent closure of Le Rêve has really shaken the performing arts community of Las Vegas to its core. Everyone has been on edge these last few months with the uncertainty of the timeline for the return of shows and events in our city, but with the Le Rêve announcement, it certainly has amplified everyone’s fears.

A beautiful show that employed some of the most talented artists and crew in our industry and has been a staple of entertainment in Las Vegas for 15 years suddenly gone?

It makes us all wonder if our own show/the show we were working on before the pandemic will be the next to shutter.

I feel for my friends and colleagues at Le Rêve, not only for their loss of employment. When you are a part of a show, you become a part of a family.

To have that family torn apart suddenly and without the opportunity to be together and celebrate the show’s accomplishments and to celebrate each other is really heartbreaking.

But I send my love and support to everyone at Le Rêve. And I have great confidence that we all will land on our feet. I have no idea when, but I trust that the day will come. We, as a performing arts community, are resilient and will keep rolling with the tide.”

Rolling with the tide

Charly Ortega, Stage Manager for Cirque du Soleil, as well as for several of Dragone’s aquatic shows recounts some amazing facts about Le Rêve:

Le Rêve was a show that was full of “triple threat” performers. To find someone who can act, dive, dance, and do acrobatics on this high level of skill is not an easy feat. It’s a very very hard profile. And I think they managed to keep a high quality of performance and to be very consistent on the level that they had, the acrobatics tricks, the cast, crew. The whole concept was very strong for the entire 15 years.

Another thing I believe is super-cool is how they managed to keep the live singing. In the other Franco shows after, they don’t have that anymore.

Actually, they never had that. So from the Franco Dragone aquatics shows, Le Rêve was the only one (apart from O) that featured live singing.

Le Rêve also were the first ones to start the backstage experiences for guests. All these options where you could go, and you could dive, and you could see the world backstage.

And, even though Le Rêve came after O, Le Rêve was the one that brought Franco’s world together.

Le Reve love

Of a couple, of love, of having the queen, and the good kingdom, and the bad kingdom. All these stories that are the pillar of all the other aquatics shows Franco created. In The House of Dancing Water, they continued the concept with the couple for example. As well as in the Han show, the Dai show.”

“All the things we know of Franco… it all started at Le Rêve. So, I think, Le Rêve is basically the mother or the father of all the other Dragone aquatics shows that came after.”

Alevtyna Titarenko, a brilliant acrobat who worked for some of the greatest circus shows remembers:

“I saw Le Rêve in 2006 or 2007 for the first time. And was blown away!

I thought it was the best show I’ve ever seen, better than O and I was one of the original artists of O. I did its creation, so I felt it in my heart.

The original Le Rêve was so real, so raw, gorgeous, tough. It rendered me speechless. Franco’s direction and Giuliano’s choreography made this unbelievable match. The show has changed over the years but to me I’ll always remember the original one, the one that blew me away.“

Le Reve mindblowing

Brian White, former Le Rêve performer, now house troupe at The House of Dancing Water fondly recounts:

Le Rêve gave many people opportunities and purpose. It really was a dream job in that it opened up so many doors as a performer. You could stay there for 10 years or 1 and see yourself grow as a performer and individual.”

“For myself, it paved the way to so many other skill sets that I never would have considered. I would not be where I am today without Le Rêve.

Growth and learning

Malia Jones, versatile, experienced performer and coach also remembers:

Le Rêve was the first place that taught me how to disrobe the conformity and structure of being an athlete.

Le Rêve awakened the artist that lives inside of me; liberating her and setting her free to explore an untapped world of freedom, creativity and expression that I never dreamed was possible! And for that I am forever grateful.”

Liberating the artist inside

Photographs kindly provided by Tomasz Rossa and Tom Fairchild.

Le Reve forever

Romantic couple

Aerial acrobats

Le Reve magnificent

Le Reve underwater

More from Liam Klenk:

Don’t Wear That Hat: Theatre Superstitions & their Origins

Entertainment with A Splash: A History of Aquatic Shows

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