Spellbinding Entertainment: La Perle | Al Habtoor City

Team Out & About has been waiting in anticipation for the arrival of Le Perle ever since it was first announced for Dubai’s Al Habtoor City development a number of years ago. A one-of-a-kind immersive show that brings together awe-inspiring acrobatics with an arena filled with 2.7million litres of water! La Perle comes to us from Franco Dragone, the creative director behind performance troupe Cirque du Soleil and marks the region’s first permanent entertainment show. Housed in a tailor-made aquatic theatre, La Perle offers spellbinding entertainment, unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Situated in the heart of Al Habtoor City on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal, Le Perle looks to bring something refreshing to Dubai’s burgeoning arts and culture scene, but logistically the area is a bit of a mess! Overwhelming construction, a severe lack of signage and barely a street light in sight, make for a poor first impression. Yet upon our arrival at the venue all is soon forgotten as the dazzling facade of La Perle (complete with high definition video screens) with its semi-futuristic feel, soon redeems the situation.

In the lobby modern feeling of modernity and futurism continues, as ambient lighting in various hues of blue captivates guests in the hopes of enticing them to buy merchandise (a show program may be a good idea as the story of La Perle is somewhat confusing) mixed with a soaring soundtrack that’s utilised as a means of building anticipation. Currently, tickets for the show can only be purchased online and the collection process is fast and efficient.

Entering into the venue itself prepare to be dazzled, for the 1,300 seater, purpose-built theatre is a marvel to behold. A small stage complete with circular plunge pool is flanked by walls and props of various textures, with the wave-like curvature of the peripheral walls wrapping around the audience and enclosing them in an alluring space stretching 25m skywards. With only 14 rows of seating, La Perle feels intimate and despite the varying price points, there’s not a bad seat in the house, with spectacular views of the arena fanning out in a tiered formation from the stage floor.

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Without giving too much away, La Perle looks to embrace the spirit of Dubai via a mix of human performance, technology and music,  seamlessly integrated together into an experience unlike anything else in the region. As we mentioned previously, the story may be a little disjointed and hard to keep track of at times, but the performances from a team 65 artists hailing from all over the globe impress. From the aerial wire works to the free-diving in which performers drop 25m from the ceiling into the water below, it’s an astounding interplay between technology and performer.

Each ‘scene’ during La Perle’s brief 75-minute runtime acts as a crescendo, becoming more and more extreme as you see a Chinese dragon jumping between pillars, aerial wire work, and a man free-jumping over a metal steam-punk contraption at death-defying heights. The highlight of the show has to be the motorcycle ‘ball of death’ which is worth the ticket price alone and has to be seen to be believed.

Lighting and video projection change the stage, as floors crack and pathways appear, spiralling below the performers as they assemble in dizzying formations. The element of water brings an extra immersive feel to the audience as waterfalls cascade downwards to fill the stage and at one point it even rains! La Perle’s purpose-built aqua-stage provides much of the attraction, filled with 2.7 million litres of water, the stage can move from dry to wet in mere moments.

It’s a smart move by La Perle management to allow (and welcome) smartphone photography during the performances, so long as you don’t use flash or disrupt other audience members. This is something you’ll definitely want to share but in all honesty, you’ll likely be so caught up in the high flying antics that you probably won’t bother.

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For such an aesthetically pleasing venue La Perle appears to tick all of the right boxes, though the F&B choices are mildly disappointing – shawarma, popcorn and hot dogs appear to be the order of the day. Yes, these items may offer mass-market appeal but they lack the refinement of London’s West End or Broadway in New York. Thankfully, La Perle’s atrium is also home to a number of fine dining options so a pre (or post) show trip to Zocco or Blind Dragon may be a smart option if time permits.

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It’s pleasing to see that culture and the arts are finally taking precedence in the UAE and La Perle follows hot on the heels of both Dubai Opera and the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Tickets may be on the pricey side (look out for upcoming National Day specials) but for a one-of-a-kind experience, a trip to La Perle is money well spent. We guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like it and we’re already planning our next visit.

Tickets: From AED 400 – AED 1,500 (available here)

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We were invited to La Perle. All views are our own and all photographs used in this post are © La Perle.