Behind the scenes at Fontana, the Middle East's first travelling water circus

The performers are in the UAE, entertaining crowds at Dubai Festival City

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A one-of-a-kind aquatic show has been capturing the attention of audiences in Dubai for the past couple of weeks.

Aerialists, motorcyclists, trapeze artists, musicians, dancers and singers are among the performers taking to the stage night after night as part of Fontana, the Middle East's first travelling water circus, which is at Dubai Festival City for the next few weeks.

The National went behind the scenes with the performers as they geared up for another day on the stage.

One of the performers gets her outfit ready ahead of showtime. Chris Whiteoak / The National

There are dozens of people involved in the show, with more than 20 nationalities and a team whose members speak more than 15 languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Italian, French, Portuguese and English.

In total, there are 40 performers.

Singers are also part in the performance. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The performers can spend between three and six hours a day practising their movements, stretching and maintaining their equipment and bodies, depending on how many performances they have that day.

The clown duo from Spain are a big hit at the circus. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The two-hour show, produced by Cirque Du Liban from Lebanon, is performed up to twice a day from Wednesday to Sunday, at 3pm and 6pm, on its own custom-built aquatic theatre and more than 30-metre-tall central tent with capacity for up to 1,300 people. It's a family-friendly event, suitable for anyone aged two and above, and tickets start from Dh90.

The name Fontana was inspired by the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy, a famous attraction where visitors toss coins in for luck.

Fontana is the first travelling aquatic circus to come to the Middle East. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A musical dancing fountain is the centrepiece of the performance, as water jets and colourful lights dance together in sync with music, and it takes 35,000 gallons of water to fill the Fontana fountains.

Three aerial acrobats perform mid-air, while Duo Del Comedia, a Spanish comedy pair, get the audience laughing, and men on motorcycles perform daring stunts — to name a few.

Three aerial performers take to the stage. Chris Whiteoak / The National

So far, it's had a largely positive reception in Dubai, with many rave reviews shared online by audience members, with particular kudos given to the clowns. "It was so enjoyable," wrote one commenter on Platinumlist.com, where tickets are available to buy. "Exceeded my expectations," wrote another, giving it a five-star rating, although some users complained about the lack of proper air-conditioning in the tent.

It's been so popular in fact, that the run has been extended until December 31.

A motorcyclist performs daredevil tricks. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“Guests should expect to see a breathtaking blend of live entertainment, artistic circus performances, captivating shows, amazing aerialists, water jets with special effects, music, lights, comedy, dancers, thrills and more," Thierry Antonios, a managing partner at Hat Entertainment, which owns Cirque Du Liban, previously told The National.

"This is an experience to awe the whole family."

A performer prepares for one of the seven shows a week the company presents. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Updated: October 28, 2022, 12:01 PM
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