‘Tis the season of merriment, festivities, and dreaming with all the wonder and beauty that are the holidays. Amid the shimmering tinsel and the florid ornaments and lights, gifts arrive this season in all shapes, sizes, and renditions. This winter, the gift of opportunity for many folks right here in Colorado has arrived with Cirque Dreams’ “Holidaze.”
The renowned Cirque du Soleil shows are best known for their legacy of delivering awe-inspiring stage performances laced with beautiful scenery and architecture alongside over-the-top costumes. Through fully realized alternative realities that weave narratives of aerialists, contortionists, and clowns, it is safe to say that once you’ve seen a Cirque show, it will leave its imprint on you forever.
Most are unaware, however, of the philanthropic and creative arm of the performative dynasty that is Cirque Dreams. Luckily for eight Colorado residents who have set their eyes on the prize of making it to the big top, they are getting the chance to make their Rocky Mountain state proud.
“We have been doing this for 25 years now, and it’s something that has really been a part of our core values,” said Neil Goldberg, leader and found of the Cirque Dreams division. “There’s a lot of talent in this world that doesn’t necessarily have the resources and the support to enrich their skill set.”
“Holidaze,” running at Gaylord Rockies bubly threater from November 22-January 4, is an inclusive holiday show embracing what we love most about the months of November and December. With elements of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and more, Goldberg is looking forward to bringing it all to life with Colorado’s top performers.
“The talent exceeded our expectations, and Colorado audiences will be proud as they experience incredible voices and performances from their own communities on the Cirque Dreams ‘Holidaze’ stage,” said Jill Winters, artistic director.
Cirque Dreams is a project that is near and dear to Goldberg’s heart, and it’s safe to say that this entire venture has been a dream come true for him, too.
“I was born and raised in New York City, born into an Orthodox Jewish family, so that in itself created a whole obstacle course that I needed to navigate through with my career,” he said. “I grew up in a very traditional family, having to observe the Sabbath and not being able to work on Saturdays and Sundays. Parents had their kids’ career courses plotted out for them, when they should get married, and how many children they should have.”
Feeling like an outlier in his traditional, Jewish family, he was on a diversely different path from his three siblings: an older brother who became a doctor, a younger brother who is now an accountant, and a sister who married a successful hotel entrepreneur.
“Then there’s me, the creative, singing, dancing, painting, designing young child, and back then, there wasn’t a lot of support from community about how to enrich the arts. If a boy wanted to do a dance class, it had a stigma attached to it,” Goldberg recalled.
For a lot of us queer folks, when we can’t find the community that we wish existed, we set forth on a mission to create it. Goldberg, who said he came to the LGBTQ community in a very unorthodox way, has been with his partner for 22 years and never imagined that his life could be fulfilling in such a largely impactful way.
“I’m a lucky guy, because I get to live the way I love to live and express myself the way I love to express,” he said. “I have been able to afford this kind of an opportunity and support, whether it’s through Cirque Dreams itself or through my own personal foundation.”
Similar to the mission of Cirque Dreams, The Neil Goldberg Foundation sets out to enrich the lives of young artists through programs and opportunities. Whether it’s due to accessibility based on geography or barriers due to financial strain, many young folks are like Goldberg would not have access to the arts without these intentional efforts.
“There’s some artists years ago that I’ve given opportunities to that have gone on to perform on Broadway and in major films,” he said with an audible glow. “We stay in touch, and they’re appreciative, and I know they’re paying it forward and seeing those kind of accomplishments. There’s no price you could put on that experience.”
With experience and passion, Goldberg has now been working with the team that manifests Cirque Dreams since 1993. Entering their 11th touring season, they are now embarking on their first extravaganza designed specifically for the Mile High City. In partnership with Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center, Goldberg is not taking anything for granted and is certain he will deliver a fresh and exciting show worthy of all things holly, jolly, and bright.
“We don’t rest on our laurels; we always want to add new themes and new costumes, push the envelope with artists, and engage audiences,” Goldberg explained. His excitement is infectious, as he goes into detail in describing the intricacies of not only the uniqueness of the show coming to Gaylord Rockies but also the way that the entire Cirque Dreams team has contributed to making this fantasy world come to life.
“I guess for me, if it’s not fresh, and I’m not creating something new, I’m not the guy for that,” he said.
The brand new show had its unique set of challenges; however, that is not unique to Cirque Dreams shows in general. Every show is tailor-made to the venue and the vision of what will be the show-stopping and memorable portion of the overall performance.
With their plans of transporting the bubly threater into an entirely new adventure, there will be a 360-degree stage in the round with a 65-foot runway emerging from side stage. The runway created an interesting dynamic into the realm possibilities.
“The costumes that we have designed for this show, each piece is like a piece of human scenery,” Goldberg said with a fervor of urgent, titillating pride. “We’ve been told before that seeing the costumes alone is worth the price of admission, and that couldn’t be more true that the new Cirque Dreams ‘Holidaze’ show that we’re doing in Colorado.”
Some of the costumes have taken close to six months to construct and have been measured at 16 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The runway will deliver the puppeteers, actors, dancers, and performers to the spotlight while also acting as a way of showcasing the impressive, artistic creations.
“As tired as I am, and as hard as the work is, I can’t help but smile when I walk around these different Gaylord hotels and see what they do, what they’re bringing to families at this time of the year,” he said.
To get tickets or to find out more information, head to the Cirque Dreams website or drop by the breathtaking Gaylord Rockies Resort this holiday season.