For years, Cirque Du Soleil has combined the vast levels of modern circus acts through human creativity and riveting visual display. As audiences marvel at the extraordinary performances on stage, many are unaware of the phenomenon that happens behind the scenes. Individuals with backgrounds in gymnastics, dance, competitive jump rope and even descendents of circus performers, all come together to bring life to the imaginative world of Quidam.
I had the honor of receiving a firsthand experience of a Quidam open rehearsal. Many of the artists are dressed down backstage engaging in amusing conversation, stretching and practicing the night’s material. On the main stage, a couple performers run over crucial choreography for a major scene in the first half. One actress takes a little break to give incite about her costume worn during the show.
Originally from Florida, Mei Bouchard performs in the “Spanish Web” synchronized rope routine. Though her costume is extremely form fitting, Bouchard explains that the uniforms are practically like a second skin. (watch Mei's group practice their routine below!)
“Oh, it’s very comfortable” said Bouchard with a wide grin eagerly modeling her blue one piece suit. “I guess it’s because it was made just for me!”
Jessica LeBoeuf, Quidam publicist and Montreal native, clarifies that many of the costumes are made of stretch material to allow agility while performing. Something else that is quite astonishing is that each costume is specifically handcrafted to fit each performer by their exact body measurements.
“The artists are measured at our corporate offices. When the measurements are taken, a virtual 3D image is made so the costumes can be created without the performer having to be there” said LeBoeuf. As a result of each costume being specifically tailored and hand dyed with custom colors, there is absolutely no room for fault.
“Our costumes cost a little over 2 million dollars” LeBoeuf says with a look of importance. “We travel with our own set of washers. We can’t afford to have our costumes damaged or washed with any other clothing.” She also explains that each artist goes through extensive training to properly execute their own makeup application while on tour.
15 trailers transport the entire Quidam tour. One of the 15 is designated to costumes only. Several enormous garment organizers carry over 200 costumes, 500 accessories and up to 300 shoes. A team of 4 traveling specialist and 4 locals work quietly and vigorously to ensure there are no snags in any of the costumes that will potentially hinder the acts. While one person is re-touching and painting every pair of shoes from a prior performance, another is tending to any costume wears, the third assisting with makeup and the last styles all the wigs worn on stage.
“Some of them [the wigs] can take anywhere between 5 minutes…to an hour and a half to totally style for the final result” said Gladys Martel one of the traveling specialist who started off as an intern. Martel added that her job isn’t solely to style wigs. Every few weeks the specialists alternate between wardrobe duties. “I love my job” says Martel with a shy grin. “I’ve been doing it for two years now.”
In a few hours costumes will gain life. Makeup will transform the everyday person. The joking relaxed nature will form into pre-show jitters. The hustle and bustle backstage will subside. The house lights will dim and it’s time for the show to begin.
For more backstage photos check out the gallery! Behind The Scenes Quidam
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