Canadian entertainment company Creativiva is used to pulling out all the stops to wow audiences. And the five shows they’re creating exclusively for guests on Iona are no exception. Co-show directors – set- and costume-design wizard Carlos Navarrete-Patiño, and performer and aerial choreographer Mélissa Collelo – reveal the ideas and inspiration behind the shows, and what it’s been like to bring their visions to life for the first time at sea.

How does it feel to partner with P&O Cruises for unique shows at sea?

Mélissa: It’s a massive honour – and a wonderful opportunity to create a series of shows on such an intimate scale, with just 10 performers, on board a brand-new cruise ship.Carlos: Staging a show on this scale and in this environment with this team is a whole different ballgame. It will be spectacular doing routines for 15 or 30 minutes on a moving ship with the audience ‘in the round’.

The three shows for Iona’s maiden season are Rise, Triboo and Dream. Tell us more...

Carlos: They’re going to be awesome! Rise is a simple story about transformation and the beauty in all of us. It’s very visually entertaining – set in an aviary with lots of brightly coloured birds. It will be 30 minutes of beautiful ensemble performance under SkyDome, with amazing costumes, performance, acrobatics and music in a magical, multicoloured environment.Triboo is an adrenaline-driven, spellbinding battle set in an arena [SkyDome]. Before you arrive, you have to make a choice: are you going to root for the Tribe of the

Moon or the Tribe of the Sun? Where you sit is going to count, because the audience decides who will win the battle.Dream is a pop-up show in the Grand Atrium. It’s like a delightful secret that blurs the line between magic and reality. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s about the amazing stuff that we carry in our bags: our hopes, our dreams... We want the audience to feel that nothing is impossible.

In what ways is Iona a unique and exciting setting for performances?

Mélissa: We’ve drawn inspiration from the settings of SkyDome and the Grand Atrium – they totally inspired the storylines and direction for all of the shows. We didn’t impose our stories on the stage – the stage is geared to the story. It’s amazing that we’re not in a little ‘black box’ theatre, or a huge stadium – it’s all so big and bright, but still so intimate. It’s really different. Carlos: In the beginning we were working with 3D imaging, then I was able to go on Iona and check out SkyDome before we started rehearsing. It’s a fantastic stage – you have people looking at you from every point.

How does working at sea bring creative and technical challenges?

Carlos: It’s one thing being in a rehearsal venue and another thing entirely being on the ship. We’re performing high-class aerial acrobatic acts on a moving ship, on stages that move on top of a pool. You have to plan ahead for all situations and give your performers options if things change. Mélissa: It can be quite daunting, so we’re giving the performers the tools to meet the challenges. Making a few changes to the act every time we perform is actually a really positive thing – it makes us more creative. We must adapt every single act to the show.

What experiences did you draw upon for this partnership?

Mélissa: I’m from a circus background with very physical performances and aerial choreography. I’ve done some big productions, from the Sochi Olympic Games ceremony to shows with fashion house Dior, but I’ve also worked on smaller productions with Cirque du Soleil.Carlos: I’ve worked for Cirque du Soleil as well, so that’s the link that ties us together. And I’ve also done Olympic Games ceremonies in London and the last four Pan Am Games. I’ve created costumes and props for a lot of festivals and parades around the world, too – such as the Rose Parade in Los Angeles and the Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City.

How do you feel as you see all the different elements coming together?

Carlos: Excited and proud! But you know what the most exciting thing is? The performers. They’re a beautiful group of people; they’ve been taking the characters to their core and pushing the boundaries with these two crazy directors who expect so much from them. I’m most proud of them. And I can’t wait to see it all fi nally come together on Iona, with the costumes and the set and the audience.

What do you want Iona guests to take away from the shows?

Mélissa: I hope the audience can connect with all the characters and recognise themselves in their emotions and dreams. I hope it’s going to make them dream even higher and bigger. I hope they’ll feel empowered and excited; that the little girl in the audience at Triboo will feel, ‘Yes, I can be a winner too’.Carlos: Not a lot of people get to watch a real, live circus and aerial performance – to feel the pace inside a small, intimate stage; to see somebody defy gravity and speed with their technique. I really hope it inspires some of the audience to become performers themselves. But while they’re watching I want them to completely forget where they are – to literally feel as if they’re in an aviary, or an arena of time, or caught up in a dream... That’s what I want.

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