Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza opened in Phoenix on June 8th. Every time I see one of Cirque du Soleil’s shows, it never ceases to leave me mesmerized and thinking about it for days afterwards. This year was different for me because it was only the second time I’d seen a performance outside of Las Vegas. It was a different experience in that the venue was smaller and made the experience more intimate…almost as if you were a part of the show.
Recently, a few of the Phoenix Fashion Week team were invited to do something few fans get to do. We were allowed to tour the theater, view the costumes up close and learn a little bit about the people who make sure these amazing performers look and feel great for their very demanding parts in the show.
Justin Lee, the Style Director for Phoenix Fashion Week, was one of the lucky attendees and has offered to share some of his insights with us.
“ Kooza is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil. It combines two traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The name KOOZA is inspired by the Sanskrit ‘koza’, which means ‘box’, ‘Chest’ or ‘treasure’, and was chosen because of one of the underlying concepts of the production is of ‘a circus in a box.'”
“I’ve been a big fan of Cirque du Soleil shows for a long time, so you can imagine my excitement when I was told I could have a private tour and preview of the costumes/wardrobes for one of their shows, Kooza. I left the tour anxiously waiting for the show to start, giddy with excitement, feeling as if I had a ‘koza’ of secrets. It was an amazing show and it was a true pleasure to meet some of the people behind the scenes as well as some of the artists and get an insider’s look at Cirque du Soleil.
Here’s what I found out…
Backstage. Kooza hires local PT and massage therapists to be onsite for the artists where ever they travel.
Artists practicing and stretching backstage. 53 artists total. Some artists assume multiple roles/characters. There are dedicated stage crew members, but artists also help with transitions during the show.
The largest ball is 200 kg. Artists balance and walk on them. There are more than 200 props used in Kooza.
Drums. Kooza featured a live band and singers. The musicians and singers are showcased during the show and change costumes to match the current scene.
Main Stage. Artists will be entertaining the crowd as everyone is being seated later in the evening before the show.
Wigs. 12 wigs total.
Merideth (head wardrobe person) w/ Unicyclist Wig (only wig with real hair). 40+ hours for a skilled person to create one wig by hand. Strands are tied at the base of a lace cap. Allows for ventilation.
Backstage. (Megan) Fixing costumes before each performance. Everything is looked over carefully before each performance. Replacement costumes need 90 days notice to order so they must anticipate what will need to be replaced. 50+ costumes are shipped each month for replacements. The old costumes are sent back to their headquarters for Cirque du Soleil’s charity organization, Cirque du Monde. There is one copy of EVERY costume from EVERY Cirque du Soleil show on display at their headquarters in Montreal.
Backstage. (Marcus) 6-8 hours of steaming and ironing every day.
Skeleton masks. Hand painted ostrich and rooster feathers.
High wire artist’s boots. The mid sole is coated to help extend the life of the boot.
King’s shoes. Front flap is held by magnets to hide the laces behind for a clean finished look.
New performer applying make up under the supervision of the head make up artist. They each receive detailed instructions and steps. This particular performer had 26 steps. Some of the more detailed performers might have 46-50 steps for make up. Step by step instructions with pictures laying to his right.
A lot of Ben Nye, MAC and Maybelline Cosmetics. MAC Cosmetics are a sponsor, but they are not required to only use MAC Cosmetics.
Trickster’s jacket. Custom fit to each performer. All of the lines match (both sides of the jacket as well as pants). The level of detail and finish to the costumes is amazing. Each artist is fitted specifically to the costume in Montreal.
Kooza runs through July 15th at the Big Top tent adjacent to the Jobing.com arena located just off the 101 at Bethany Home. Tickets are available online through the Cirque du Soleil website or in person at the box office 30 minutes thirty minutes prior to the performance.
Thank you to Sue Kern-Fleischer and Lindsay Derr from Barclay Communications and Mami Ohki, Publicist for Cirque du Soleil, who made this opportunity possible!
Article by Liz Riley, Phoenix Fashion Week Media Editor, and Justin Lee, who provided both content and images.
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