The surreal, yet not exactly unfamiliar world of Cirque du Soleil has been dazzling and delighting audiences and critics for three decades, with 18 shows currently up and running.
The dazzle and delight part — that’s all good. It’s that familiarity part that first-time writer/director Michel Laprise was wrestling with when it came to creating Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring production “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.” For Laprise — who spent five years as a Cirque talent scout and in 2012, directed Madonna’s MDNA tour — this was his opportunity to shake things up a bit at the Montreal-based company that has come to redefine the modern circus.
“It’s a very great company and it comes with a huge responsibility, so the bar was high,” Laprise says on the phone ahead of the Boston string of performances at Suffolk Downs May 26-July 10. “Like [it was during] the first year of Cirque du Soleil, we want to have fun, we want to be a bit rebellious and do things differently. And it’s harder now to do things differently because we not only have to reinvent the circus, but to reinvent Cirque du Soleil.”
Laprise had heard the rumblings of discontent: “There [were] a couple of people who were starting to say we were becoming a little bit predictable.” And that put him in this mindset: “I wanted to do something different and I wanted to surprise people. I made a list of things we often do at Cirque, and I asked ‘Do we do it out of habit and comfort? Or out of creative necessity?’ If it was out of habit and comfort, I would just cross it out.”
The result might prompt thoughts of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” or Lewis Carroll’s "Through the Looking-Glass." "Kurios" features the largest cast in Cirque’s history (46 members), the lowest stage — Laprise says “It brings the artists in closer proximity to the audience” — and is a fanciful dive into the subculture of steampunk. The acrobatics will play out on a retro-futurist setting, part mid 19th century to the early 20th century, and part dreamscape/fantasy land.
“We had already been playing with a lot of inventions and contraptions,” Laprise says, “but we had not put the word on it and the set designer [Stephane Roy] said ‘You know what, we’re doing steampunk and we should do it more.’ I said, ‘You’re so right, let’s do it.’”
To that end, the space will have two structures called “cabinets,” one exploring the top of sound and the other electricity. It’s the age of industrialization, albeit one skewed a la Cirque. Expect to see a wonderland of props, some quite over-sized, others under-sized and many hybridized: A giant chair, a 750-pound mechanical hand, a massive model railway with an ancient locomotive, a dinner party on the stage with a descending mirror-image dinner party dropping from the ceiling.
“I wanted to have big set elements more than any other touring shows,” Laprise says and, indeed, there are 426 of them. “‘Kurios’ is a world where everything is possible and we play with perceptions a lot. And with the use of language, I didn’t want to go with the gibberish language [often prevalent in Cirque shows], so that’s why sometimes you hear a bit of Russian, a bit of French, a bit of English and it’s important for me to do that.”
Steampunk is about invention and reinvention -- taking things that we know but combining them in a different way.Michel Laprise
“Steampunk is about invention and reinvention — taking things that we know but combining them in a different way, and it has this humor attached to it,” Laprise continues. “You will see in the set, some props that are a combination of recycled things. They’re beautiful and the different components came with their own story. When they get together, they create a new story, and to me it’s a metaphor for the Cirque du Soleil show — people coming from their own backgrounds and existences, and then when they get together to make a show, they create something that’s more than the addition of what they are. It’s a very stimulating style.”
Your guide to this exotic world of “Kurios” is The Seeker (Eligiusz Skoczylas), who has built the two cabinets over time. He believes in an invisible world and grand dreams, and he encounters various fantastical half-human/half-machine characters.
Let’s consider one, Mr. Microcosmos, a creature who sports a huge boiler pot belly.
“I’m one of the characters that comes from the other [invisible] world,” explains Karl L’Écuyer, the actor-acrobat who portrays Mr. Microcosmos, in a separate phone interview. “I wear this huge costume, and inside my costume, somebody lives.”
That would be painter-poetess Mini Lili, played by the 3-foot-2-inch, 39-pound Antanina Satsura, reportedly one of the 10 smallest people in the world. “Throughout the show, you see her popping in and out of the costume and also my character,” L’Écuyer says. “I’m walking around, bossing everyone around. I’m the bipolar one — being grumpy, being happy. About half the time, I’ll be on stage trying to direct the story.”
As an acrobat, he’s featured in an act called the Acro Net, where the net covers the entire stage and the acrobats portray underwater creatures, fish and fishermen who sometimes fly, with a slingshot effect, near the top of the tent.
It’s a dimension where anything can happen, I really want it to be a world of freedom and exuberance.Michel Laprise
“It’s this huge trampoline act,” L’Écuyer says, “You’re going to see me fly from zero feet to 45 feet in a few seconds on the big net. That’s my athletic part of the show.”
Laprise adds “It’s a dimension where anything can happen, I really want it to be a world of freedom and exuberance.”
Many of the Cirque concepts have been rethought, but rest assured, “Kurios” will not lack for acrobatics, aerial strap acts, contortionists, yo-yo acts and balancing acts.
If you’ve been unable to — or really haven’t wanted to — follow Cirque du Soleil plots, you’re not alone. “Kurios,” Laprise says, doesn’t guarantee linearity, but says it is structured so you might follow a storyline.
“It feels like there is a plot because there is one for us,” he says. “I come from theater so I wrote an 80-page script. Everything was decided. Then, I started to stage it and I changed things with the artists’ contributions. Sometimes, the audience will feel ‘Oh my god, there is a story!’ You have to have something to say to the audience so they will be able to connect with you.”
Laprise says the level of input from the various artists was high. He wanted to make sure the artists, actors and acrobats considered it their show, something that sprung from his work in casting.
“I was very close to the artists, doing everything I can to allow this potential to really glow so I would not over direct,” he says. “I would more encourage and stimulate, do some guidance, and I’d want them to co-write the character with me in some cases.”
It was very important to make a show that was very joyful, that would give to the audience a great sensation of possibility.Michel Laprise
The intent of the music, as always, will be to uplift. “It’s a world where everything is possible,” says Laprise. “And to me, it was very important to make a show that was very joyful, that would give to the audience a great sensation of possibility.”
But Laprise and composers Raphaël Beau in collaboration withBob and Bill (otherwise known as Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard) have shaken things up a bit here, too, moving a few steps away from the usual world music gumbo.
“In the past there are lots of layers of computers and sequencers and stuff,” Laprise says, “and we have sequencers, but when we started [doing this] we said it’s important that we hear the piano, the accordion, the violin, the cello. We usually tend to go with world beat of this country, that country. And in this case, we said let’s go electro-swing, but in our own way.”
Laprise does have a promise about what the second song of the opening act will engender in the audience, recalling what happened the very first time he heard it.
“I was at home, on a Sunday. I listened to it and it was insane, it was so good,” he says. “I started to dance in my living room. After eight times, I called him and said, ‘This is a masterpiece; it makes me feel so alive listening to it.’
“If you’re depressed and you go to the show, after you’ve seen that opening act, there’s no way you can be depressed. It’s almost a cure. Every city that we go to, the audience is just so enthusiastic. Sometimes you give energy and don’t get energy back, but in this case the energy is always circulating and it’s a blessing. Life is good sometimes.”
For more information on tickets and showtimes, visit Cirque du Soleil’s website.
Kurios follows a late 19th-century world inventor who invents a machine that defies the laws of time, space, and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him with steampunk elements.Is Cirque du Soleil worth it Kurios? ›
KURIOS is Cirque du Soleil at its best. It features the intricate and interesting staging elements that you expect from Cirque du Soleil performances along with unusual characters and even some humour. All Cirque du Soleil shows really shine with the acrobatics though and KURIOS is no different.Where is the Cirque du Soleil big top being set up? ›
Big Top Location
Cirque du Soleil often sets up its trademark “Grand Chapiteau” big top tent in Concord Pacific Place.
Kurios is a two hours and ten minutes performance, including a 25 minutes intermission. Is KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities appropriate for children? Like most of Cirque du Soleil's shows, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is meant to entertain the whole family.Which Vegas Cirque show is best? ›
- Mystère at Treasure Island. Click here for tickets. ...
- “O” by Cirque du Soleil at Bellagio. Click here for tickets. ...
- Michael Jackson One at Mandalay Bay. Click here for tickets. ...
- Beatles LOVE at Mirage. Click here for tickets. ...
- KÀ at MGM Grand. ...
- MAD APPLE at NEW YORK-NEW YORK.
The base salary for Performers in companies like Cirque Du Soleil Inc range from $49,555 to $73,423 with the average base salary of $60,136. The total cash compensation, which includes bonus, and annual incentives, can vary anywhere from $49,555 to $75,586 with the average total cash compensation of $60,851.What is Cirque du Soleil most popular show? ›
Mystere has a reputation for being the best among the top Cirque shows. This Cirque du Soleil performance takes you into the depths of the imagination. It fills your world with vibrant colors, jaw-dropping acrobatics, and not-so-usual interpretations of circus acts.Who is the little woman in Cirque du Soleil? ›
Rima Hadchiti, the artist who plays Mini Lili, is 3.3 feet tall and weighs 41 pounds. She is one of the 10 smallest people in the world.Is Cirque du Soleil VIP experience worth? ›
For sure, I do. The food and drinks were good, the service was attentive, the seats were front and center, parking was close, bathrooms were exclusive, and the lines for everything were short. It's hard to ask for more than that from a VIP experience, and Cirque du Soleil delivered.How early should I arrive to Cirque du Soleil? ›
We recommend arriving 1 hour early as the Cirque du Soleil experience begins before the "official" show time. This will also allow time for a visit to the restroom and picking up refreshments.
The dress code is formal casual.What is the Big Top circus tent? ›
As traveling circuses expanded, tent sizes grew to accommodate more rings for different acts. The large tent that housed numerous rings and stages became known as the “The Big Top”. This name stuck and became interchangeable with circus!Is KURIOS good for kids? ›
It's totally kid friendly. As is common with Cirque shows, Kurios balances exciting physical performances with silly in-between acts to keep the crowd amused.Where should I sit at Cirque du Soleil? ›
Categories 1 and 2 (Upper & Lower Orchestra) are the best seats in the theater as they offer a direct view of the stage. However, if you're willing to sit at a distance from the stage, the Balcony is also great for watching the show. To get the best unobstructed view, it's best not to go too low or too high.Do they serve food at Cirque du Soleil? ›
The concession stands at Cirque du Soleil offer a variety of standard circus-style food options (which I find ironic since Cirque isn't your traditional circus at all). They've got nachos, pretzels, popcorn, ice cream treats, cotton candy and slush options.Which is better O or Mystere? ›
O is a prior audience member's favorite cirque show, and it also boasts the most “wow” moments. However, we would only recommend O above Mystere if you are willing to pay more for better seats; the O theater is the only Cirque show where we believe seating is important.What is the storyline of Mystere? ›
Cirque du Soleil's Mystere is an astounding theatrical production featuring a story of two babies who discover a whole new world crammed with unique creatures and brilliant colors, bumping into a clown, acrobats, dancers and musicians on their way.What is the average age of a Cirque du Soleil performer? ›
Currently employs more than 2,100 people including 500 performers. The average age of a Cirque du Soleil™ employee is 32.How hard is it to join Cirque du Soleil? ›
The audition process is rigorous, as is the training period and rehearsals that go into every show. Audience expectations are high, so the workload that goes into creating a show that lives up to the Cirque du Soleil name night after night is also high.What language is Kurios? ›
Kyrios or kurios (Ancient Greek: κύριος, romanized: kū́rios) is a Greek word which is usually translated as "lord" or "master".
Rima Hadchiti, the artist who plays Mini Lili, is 3.3 feet tall and weighs 41 pounds. She is one of the 10 smallest people in the world.How many Cirque du Soleil shows have there been? ›
Not just a circus show, Cirque du Soleil provides live entertainment through more than 20 different experiences.How many performers are there in Cirque du Soleil? ›
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group currently employs 4,000 people, including 1,300 artists, who originate from nearly 50 countries.What does kyrios mean in Hebrew? ›
kýrios) is a Greek word which is usually translated as "lord" or "master". In religious usage, it is sometimes translated as God. It is used in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. Kyrios appears about 740 times in the New Testament, usually referring to Jesus.What does the word lord means in Greek? ›
When referring to the true God, the New Testament sometimes uses the Greek word kurios translated as "Lord." It is important that we have a correct understanding of the word because it is often misunderstood. It Does Not Always Refer To God. The thought behind the word kurios is supremacy and authority.How do you perform Cirque du Soleil? ›
To become a performing artist in a show applicants must submit a videocassette or DVD of them demonstrating their special talent, or take part in one of the many auditions held around the world all year round. For more information about being cast in a Cirque du Soleil show, visit the Casting section of our website.What is the dress code for Cirque du Soleil Toronto? ›
The dress code is formal casual.How long does KURIOS last? ›
The show is about 2 hours in length. Acrobats, contortionists, trapeze, trampoline, juggling, balancing acts and clowns in steampunk style are all featured in this non-typical circus done in typical Cirque du Soleil fashion.When was KURIOS in Toronto? ›
Since the world premiere in Montreal in 2014, and its debut in Toronto the same year, KURIOS has mesmerized over 4.5 million spectators in 30 cities worldwide with over 2,000 performances.What is Cirque du Soleil most popular show? ›
Mystere has a reputation for being the best among the top Cirque shows. This Cirque du Soleil performance takes you into the depths of the imagination. It fills your world with vibrant colors, jaw-dropping acrobatics, and not-so-usual interpretations of circus acts.
The audition process is rigorous, as is the training period and rehearsals that go into every show. Audience expectations are high, so the workload that goes into creating a show that lives up to the Cirque du Soleil name night after night is also high.What is the average age of a Cirque du Soleil performer? ›
Currently employs more than 2,100 people including 500 performers. The average age of a Cirque du Soleil™ employee is 32.How much do Cirque du Soleil performers make in Vegas? ›
Job offers usually come with 1 or 2 year contracts. Most performers make between $30,000 and $100,000 per year. Other Cirque employees are paid per show or hourly – it all depends on the job. Employees are offered shared accommodations at the Cirque Studios or traveling accommodations while on tour.What made Cirque du Soleil's strategy successful? ›
The troupe quickly found fans eager to pay money to see its blend of acrobatics and art. One crucial factor that helped it succeed was that Cirque du Soleil did away with the animals normally associated with circuses like Barnum and Bailey's or the Ringling Brothers. Instead, it focused on acrobatics in one big tent.