cirque du soleil

A Sneak Peek at Cirque du Soleil’s New Show

Interview: Marie-Andrée Foisy 
Photography: Safe Solvent

How does Cirque continue to inspire and reinvent in an entertainment category they invented? Their Director of Creation for new show “Luzia” has the answers

THE RED BULLETIN: What was the inspiration behind the theme for Luzia? Why Mexico? 

PATRICIA RUEL: Cirque always looks at exploring new and different horizons. With previous shows, we focussed on different cultures in Brazil and Japan, so it was only natural for us to explore such a rich and deep culture like Mexico. In Luzia we look at Mexico and its history, the richness of the pre-Hispanic culture, but also its modernity.

What comes first in the creative process?

After selecting the theme, we try to find a director that will connect with that theme. Our director, Daniele Finzi Pasca, lived in Mexico for over 10 years and has a deep connection with the country. Then, we build a creative team to dream up the show. Most of the time, all designers begin the process with visual and musical research on the different ideas we want to explore from the main theme. From there, the director and the writer build a storyline, and in parallel we develop the acrobatic skeleton to tell that story. 

How long does a Cirque show take to create from idea to opening night?

More or less 2 years.

What is the significance of adding water? Why did it take so long for this to be a key element in a Cirque show?

Adding water is a very big challenge in a touring show. It essentially means that all electrical and mechanical systems need to be waterproof, that we need to find new types of soles for artist’s shoes, that we need to come up with a system to dry costumes between shows. Also, the water needs to be heated during the winter, as well as recycled. But we decided the challenge was worth it and found solutions to all those obstacles.

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Cirque added winter bike tires around the Cyr Wheel for optimal performance under the slippery conditions of the stage

Are there any never-been-done-before tricks or body movements in this show?

We have developed a new type of Cyr Wheel to be able to perform underwater by adding winter bike tires on the external surface. We decided to explore the combination of hoop diving (a Chinese traditional circus discipline) and giant treadmills with the hope of creating more speed and a unique sequence of movements. It is also the first time we used rain and a water basin in the middle of the stage; with this element we are able to integrate a strap act where an artist “dips” into the water. And it’s the first time we have a football freestyle dance act.

“The addition of rain on stage is a new challenge and we constantly have to adapt to this element”
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Performer Benjamin Courtenay practices with the water basin

How do most performers find their way to Cirque?

Their background is mostly gymnastics. A lot of our artists come from different circus schools from all around the world, including École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal. A few are from the extreme sports circuit.

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A demanding job, artists perform up to 10 times per week once the show opens

What is the best preparation for what Cirque demands on your body and mind?

A lot of training. Artists have between 4 to 7 months of training prior to the opening of the show. They work between 40-60 hours per week. They are also followed by a medical team that assesses their strengths and weakness and helps them get fitter and stronger. They need to learn where to be on stage, how to behave and become their character and how to do their own make-up. Once the show starts, artists will have to perform up to 10 shows per week, which is, I think, the biggest challenge. 

What do you hope the audience takes away from the new show?

We hope they will go home with a new image of Mexico and a fresh outlook on Cirque du Soleil.

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03 2016

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