As Brisbane audiences eagerly await the arrival of Cirque Du Soleil's brand new production, OVO, Australian Stage had a chat with the team to get a sneak peek behind the scenes and see what we can expect from this most spectacular of companies.
We know that every Cirque Du Soleil show has its own story and its own flavor. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind OVO?
It was a wonderful idea, to come up with a show about insects. Often, the Cirque Du Soleil's stories and flavours are rather mystical, and perhaps a little 'dark'. We wanted to create a show that was colourful and full of energy. Insects are incredibly beautiful, colourful and energetic!
Is there a storyline threading through the show?
OVO, which means egg in Portugese, is the story of one day in the life of a community of insects, led by 'Master Flipo'. The story is staged in the most simple of ways, so everyone can see, understand and interpret for him or herself. The story starts in the morning, and we go through midday and night.
On this one day, a strange and foreign insect stumbles upon this community. He carries on his back a gigantic egg which evokes great curiosity amongst the community. What is inside the egg? Is it food, is it a secret to live happily? What is it and why is this foreign insect so fond of it? The foreigner, who is representing a Fly, becomes distracted when he sees the community's beautiful and voluptuous Ladybug. He falls instantly in love with her. In this moment, the community steals his egg and the quest to find it back begins as he travels through the various families of insects and their ways of life. In the end the foreigner and the ladybug receive the blessing of the community and Master Flipo and it is in this moment, that the foreigner is given back his egg. What is inside the egg is truly for the audience to interpret for themselves.
Myself, I believe the egg represents life, the enigma of life, and love, love, love.
We know that the costumes and sets of Cirque Du Soleil are always something to look forward to. How did these elements of the production come together? Can you give us a sneak-peek into the development process?
OVO's costumes were designed by Liz Vandal. Liz began her career as a fashion designer in 1988. Her style was inspired by futuristic superheroes and medieval armour. She used materials such as vinyl, plastic and polyurethane to bring her fantastic creations to life.
Choreographers and dance companies turn to Liz regularly because of her ability to combine costumes and body movement.
OVO marks the first time Liz has worked with Cirque du Soleil. Liz took full advantage of all the resources available in the Cirque costume shop. She explored techniques of transforming material in order to evoke, not imitate, insects. Pleating, dyeing and the application of various finishes gives the costumes a third dimension. The end result is a sort of 'organic origami' that resembles muscles and shells. This approach makes it possible to raise the costumes to a level of poetry and give them an evocative texture.
The costumes are absolutely stunning and brilliantly created. Very colourful too, which is what we wanted! It brings a smile just looking at them.
And what about the performers? No doubt they work pretty hard in training during the development of the show and while on tour?
Pretty hard is an understatement. They stand up and go to sleep in order to be able to do, what they do. Cirque du Soleil artists are one of a kind. We have recruited them for their abilities. Most of them have been training their specialty since they were young children. On OVO we have 54 artists from 16 different nationalities. They are all wonderful and amazing and extremely disciplined. They train and rehearse every day, to give the audiences the best product ever. Mostly however, and we must not forget this; they train so that they, themselves, can feel good about what they do; so that they can open their hearts and touch themselves, each other and with that, the audiences. A very challenging task to do every day, but they do it.
We've heard there's a spectacular flying act in OVO using a unique combination of circus apparatus. What will this be like, and can you tell us what other surprises are in store?
I would so much love to tell you EVERYTHING we have in store for you, but then you do not have to come and see our show anymore right? The flying act is indeed the biggest flying act under a big top of Cirque du Soleil as it holds three different disciplines; Cradle bar, Banquine and Russian swing. It's a pretty incredible and quite breath taking act performed by our impressive Scarabs.
The last act in our show has a similar level of difficulty as it holds three different disciplines as well; Trampoline, Power Track and Wall climbing elements. It is an amazing closing act for our show, performed by our famous and incredible Crickets!
Including all the artists and the behind the scenes crew this must be a mammoth team. What different nationalities and languages are represented in the production?
We have 16 different nationalities within our cast. When you arrive to our big top, you will see all the flags of each different nationality working on our tour, risen above the entrance tent. I love this tradition. We literally work with people from all over the world. We have about 125 people working on our tour. Many of them travel with their partners and children, making it a beautiful community full of life and exchange and collaboration and love. It is the most magical place to live and work in.
And the writer and director of the show, Deborah Colker, is the first female director of a Cirque show. How did her background in choreography inspire the creation of this insect world?
Deborah says, "OVO presents the world of insects with the emphasis on constant movement and colour." She has a very physical choreographic language and for her the insects' movements translate into emotion. OVO reflects her background in dance, of course, but it also represents her lifelong love of music, the inspiration she draws from sport and the liveliness you can discover in every aspect of life. She loves to work on a large scale and create a big impact with tons of energy and excitement on stage.
Ultimately, what will OVO evoke in audiences?
A heart and soul feeling light, love and full of life! And perhaps a renewed awareness about the precious life and importance of insects for our planet.
Ultimately; happiness, joy, laughter and of course, amazement!
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL - OVO - 2012/2013 AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Brisbane From July 14 2012, Northshore Hamilton
Sydney From September 13 2012, Showring at The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park
Adelaide From December 6 2012, Tambawodli (Park 24) Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Melbourne From January 17 2013, Melbourne Docklands
Perth From April 14 2013, Langley Park
Top right – Animation. Photo – OSA Images. Costumes – Liz Vandal
Bottom right – Finale. Photo – OSA Images. Costumes – Liz Vandal