by Celeste Thorson & David Christopher Lee
The fourth annual Cirque Du Soleil One Drop Gala was held for one night only on Friday March 18 at the Smith Center for the performing arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. The evening began with a blue carpet reception at the Cleveland Clinic where philanthropists, celebrities and patrons bid on silent auction items ranging from a VIP concert with Jennifer Lopez to a walk-on role in the upcoming 50 Shades Darker movie. MGM Resorts International, McLaren Automotive and Zappos.com served as title sponsors for the event. $6.5 million were raised for ONE DROP’s global water initiatives, with all proceeds supporting water access and conservation programs worldwide.
Grammy-nominated singer Leona Lewis and Miles “Baby Boogaloo” Brown walked the blue carpet along with One Drop artistic director Haasan El Hajjami. Fashion personality Jeannie Mai, magician Criss Angel, Natasha Bedingfield and a Cirque du Soleil performers walked the blue carpet and expressed their support for this celebration of arts and philanthropy. Natural sunlight beamed through the whimsical windows while guests feasted on hors’ deurves by world-famous chefs Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla. An afterparty was held after the performance with renown restaurants Wolfgang Puck, Milos, STK, PBR Rock Bar,Border Grill, Ethel M, HEXX, Spin Spun, Espresso Amore and others.
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté founded the non-profit organization ONE DROP™ to provide water as a transformative force to improve living conditions as well as give communities the ability to care for themselves. ONE DROP™ has created a A, B, C for Sustainability intervention approach and award winning strategic and operational initiatives to provide access to safe water. In it’s fourth year, one drop has raised over $20 million dollars for the cause.
Guests were escorted to the Smith Center for Performing Arts to see over 100 Cirque du Soleil artists perform. All artists donated their time and talents to make the evening possible. The performance was inspired by Artistic Director Hassan El Hajjami’s struggle for finding clean water when he used to travel with his grandmother everyday to retrieve it. The performance opens with a rich celebration of life in an African village with energetic dancers and vibrant colors. Miles “Baby Boogaloo” Brown’s character is inspired by Hassan himself as a child and walks to a well to retrieve water during a drought. He accidentally falls into the well and is transported to surreal environments ranging from an enchanted underwater dream to a fiery devil’s lair.
Aerial performers swept across the stage with agility and charmed the audience with death defying feats. Two aerialist children showcased their flexibility and expertise in unison as they whirled through the air. Flying mermaids, ballerinas, and mad hatters were suspended in air to create the hypnotic underwater experience. The psychedelic Alice in Wonderland inspired sequence featured magic mushrooms, caterpillar showgirls, and synchronized bunny dancers. Two comedic foreign characters on safari transitioned the acts with laughter; they even created a “So you think you can Rain Dance?” competition for two bashful audience members called on stage.
Contortionists, bone breakers, and dance troupes mystified the audience with music ranging from classical to modern dubstep. The orchestra boomed epic melodies that powerfully echoed through each act. Leona Lewis graced the stage and glittered in a silvery gown for her solo of “Bleeding Love” while two dancers entwined with acrobatics performed behind her. She later closed out the show in a sparkling navy gown with a roaring performance of her 2015 single “Thunder” as lightening rippled across the stage.
Following the performance, VIP guests continued the festivities at an exclusive after-party entitled Alice in One Drop, sponsored by McLaren. A white rabbit chased by Alice led party goers into the grand Alice in Wonderland themed tent where they were greeted by more characters dressed in fantastic costumes. Body painting, balloon hats, photobooths, and a hookah lounge hosted by a smoke puffing caterpillar provided an eclectic mix of world-class entertainment. GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield exuberantly performed inspiring hits such as Unwritten and Pocket Full of Sunshine accompanied by a guitarist. The crowd joyfully danced to the music as she frolicked across the stage grasping the hands of her adoring fans.
A Mad Hatter Tea Party was held near the entrance with whimsical tea pots and decadent flower pieces. Black and white chess pieces marched in slow motion while Edie, Zumanity’s Mistress of Sensuality played the role of the Queen of Hearts. We snacked on illuminated cotton candy, vegetarian ceviche, short-rib ravioli, and sipped artisan cocktails compliments.
Cirque du Soleil never disappoints and it shows with this multi-million dollar production. It was a chance to celebrate life and raise money for a good cause. One Drop has successfully raised funding, awareness, and united performers and audience members from all over the world who were brimming with talent and generosity. One Drop hosts a completely unique performance for one night each year and it is truly a luxurious destination with entertainment of epic proportions. We look forward to seeing what next year has in store for this charity and its guests.