Outside the Ring

Take a visit to New York City to see how Cirque does it on tour with Zarkana

With seven resident Cirque du Soleil shows on the Strip, it’s easy to think that our city has the monopoly on Canadian acrobats. But outside state lines, Cirque offers a whopping 15 more shows. The most Vegas-esque of them all, Zarkana, recently found its way to New York City’s iconic Radio City Music Hall. But it won’t stay long. Fortunately, this short primer will leave you just enough time to buy plane tickets.

This acrobatically infused rock opera tells the story of Zark, a magician who inhabits the surreal world of an abandoned theater. As he pines for his lost love and his lost powers, mutants, clowns and other strange circus characters pass through his abode.

The show presents many of the famed acts from other Cirque productions. If you’ve seen , you may recognize two of Zarkana’s scenes. In “Wheel of Death,” acrobats glide aerially from one spinning orb to another. And in “Sand Drawings,” an artist vividly paints scenes from the show’s plot in sand.

But what separates Zarkana from its sister shows is its unique set design and costuming, which in comparison to other Cirque productions is more luxurious and romantic in style.

The walls of Zark’s theater are a study in organic formations. They breathe, move and sing their own chorus. Inspired by the Art Nouveau movement of the 20th century and artists such Antoni Gaudí and Gustav Klimt, the environment transports guests on a visual adventure highlighted by an organ-heavy score. Complementing the music and set design, costumer Alan Hranitelj uses extreme details to bring the wardrobe to life. “Something as apparently insignificant as a pocket might give an artist an entire repertoire of small gestures that help to define his or her character, even if it isn’t obvious to the audience,” he says.

Hranitelj brings his early-career experience as an haute-couture designer to his first love, the stage. He primarily designs for drama, opera and film. This is his first collaboration with Cirque du Soleil.

“Creating costumes is always an exciting adventure,” Hranitelj says. “I’m not always sure where the director’s instructions, my imagination and intuition, and the structure and sound of the fabric will finally lead me. Yet at the same time, I’m also aware of the performer who will have to wear the costume as a kind of substitute skin.”

Where to Stay

Mandarin Oriental Columbus Circle. Perched atop the Time Warner Center is the luxurious Mandarin Oriental, which boasts all the elements to make it classic New York. The hotel’s location—towering above Columbus Circle—makes every room one with a view. Imagine gazing out over Central Park or taking in the skyline. The hotel itself isn’t too shabby either. With all the five-star Mandarin Oriental touches such as a world-class spa, dining at the top-rated Asiate and even a pillow concierge, Mandarin Oriental New York gives a new meaning to “at your service.”

80 Columbus Circle, 212-805-8800, MandarinOriental.com.

Yotel. The concept began as a terminal hotel at London’s Heathrow Airport and transplanted to two blocks from Times Square. It may still carry the aviation theme—rooms are called cabins and the concierge is Mission Control—but there are no other remnants of a simple airport hotel. The hotel features New York’s largest outdoor terrace, a Richard Sandoval restaurant and the numerous lounge and studio spaces. One of the most interesting amenities is the Yobot, which aids in safely storing luggage in the T-Tech Tumi luggage lounge. The robotic arm does all the heavy lifting when it comes to transporting and storing guests’ belongings during their stay or during checkout.

570 10th Ave., 646-449-7700, Yotel.com.