Yesterday was a dream come true. Yesterday I got to not only review the traveling Cirque Du Soleil show: Quidam, but I also got to attend rehearsals and interview a couple of cast members!!! I’m walking on clouds right now! I must be one of Cirque’s biggest fans. Husband and I have seen ten different Cirque show since we have been together. They never get old or cease to amaze me. I leave every single show feeling inspired and envious of the incredibly talented and unbelievable strong performers. Seriously, how do they do that?!
When I arrived to the Bridgestone Arena this afternoon I was so excited and nervous that I actually forgot to put my shoes on, or at least the shoes I meant to wear. See, I left the house in a hurry (big surprise) with some cheap old bright blue flip-flops on, and stilettos in my hand. I planned to change shoes once I arrived. It wasn’t until after my first interview that I realized I still had on my bright blue flip-flops. I immediately blamed Husband for letting me get out of the car like that, but he claims he assumed I was trying to “keep it casual”. Whatever.
I was the first “reporter” to arrive to rehearsals which means I got to watch the performers up close and have them all to myself. The first group rehearsing was the Spanish web, a group act, who climbs up and down ropes, swing around wildly and basically look death in the face everyday. I could sit and watch them maneuver on the ropes all day. These performers are in such incredible shape. Every move looks so smooth and easy. I can’t even walk in heels as easily as they flip around doing aerial stunts.
My first interview was with Andrei Vintilov, one of the Quidam coaches. He was an original members of Quidam in 1995! Andre is from the Ukraine, was an acrobats world champion and has worked with Cirque for almost 20 years! Here’s what he had to say about his job and life in the circus.
Me: When you were in Quidam in 1995, what was your role?
Andre: I did banquine, an acrobatics number with lots of human pyramids.
Me: What did you do after starting in Quidam?
Andrei: I started here for three years doing Quidam. Then I did Saltimbanco with my first wife and my children. After Saltimbanco, I moved to Zed. I did four years with Zed, from the creation to the close. Then I did a couple of months doing Iris in Los Angeles.I took a year break and now I am back working with Quidam.
Me: I’ve seen Zed about four years ago, in Tokyo!
Andrei: I was definitely there.
Me: Hey, we go way back! So when did you get involved with acrobats and this sort of artistry?
Andrei: When I was seven years old I did gymnastics then moved on to sport acrobatics when I was 15. In 1989 I was the European world champion of sport acrobatics, but you cannot make money doing acrobatics so I had to move to the circus. I joined the Moscow Circus. I was in Tokyo actually, performing with the Moscow Circus when I first saw Cirque Du Soleil. One year later I began working for Quidam.
Me: How long does it take to train for one Cirque show?
Andrei: It takes about 8 to 9 months during the creation of a show, but it also depends on the director. For example, after Quidam I said I would never do the creation of a show again. I was always exhausted. Franco, the director sees the entire world upside down and everything is crazy. The director of Zed was a movie director so his creation was smooth and easy. But, even though Franco was crazy, the show, for me…yes I was tired… but it was a more interesting experience working with Franco.
For example, the opening number is the German Wheel and there is Ukranian music and a Ukrainian dance. I created the dance because Franco said, “Where are you from? Do you know how to do a Ukranian dance?” I started to show him and I danced for two hours non-stop. I was sweating, tired, felt like shit and when I stopped he said “No. No, continue.” The next day the Ukranian dance was on the schedule for everyone!
We also learned the Brazilian drums for 9 months, 4 times a week, 2 hours every lesson. There is only 20 seconds of Brazilian drums in the show.
Me: Wow, that’s intense. What’s your favorite part of the show?
Andrei: I don’t know… maybe the Ukrainian dance because it is of my heart.
My next interview was with a young girl from Florida named Mei. Mei began dancing at eleven years old. One day an aerial artist came to her studio to teach, and Mei immediately fell in love with this new artistry. She began taking more and more classes in aerial work, and eventually auditioned with La Nouba in Orlando (Yay! La Nouba!).
Me: How long have you been working in Quidam?
Mei: I’ve been performing in Quidam for two years.
Me: What is life like being on tour with Cirque for two years?
Mei: Great! We travel as a big family and we do everything together. We have a lot of fun!
Me: Do you ever get time to explore the cities you travel through?
Mei: Yes! We actually get every Monday and Tuesday off. This week we went down Broadway, listened to live music, ate Mexican food with margaritas and I bought a pair of cowboy boots. We have plans to go line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon before we leave too!
My interview with Mei was short and sweet because she was quickly called to rehearse a jump rope number. I took the rest of the time to explore the backstage area where the props are stored and the cast warms up.
Before we left, we got to see this woman practicing her hand balancing routine. After a run-through she slumped over to her coach and said…”I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s not that I’m tired. I just feel off. It’s like I have no muscle”.
This lady with “no muscle” then went back to work and did this…
I mean, seriously, the girl should probably start working out.
I loved my time at rehearsal and backstage. Huge thank you to Jessica, Katie, Andrei and Mei-Mei for this experience. Can’t wait to get the review of the show up!