BY NIDHA KHAN

Cirque du Soleil is returning to Auckland this summer for the first time in five years. Their new production, KOOZA, has been described as a “breath-taking homage to the traditions of circus”. I got a chance to ask two of the performers some questions about the show and what it’s like to be a performer at Cirque du Soleil.

 

What can audiences expect from KOOZA?

Odgerel Byambadorj:  I feel inspired every time I watch our show KOOZA, and I’m sure everyone will be too. There are funny parts, scary parts, and sad parts, so it’ll be like an emotional rollercoaster.

David Rosera: The audience can expect a show full of joy. They will also find everything that a traditional circus has to offer… with the Cirque du Soleil style.

 

How will it be different from Cirque du Soleil’s previous show Totem?

Odgerel Byambadorj:  I’ve never seen the show TOTEM, but every show from Cirque du Soleil are all very different. Our show has a major traditional circus vibe.

David Rosera: I have never seen TOTEM, but I believe KOOZA is different since it is inspired by the traditional circus (art of clowning and high-level acrobatics) and it is presented in its best style.

Odgerel Byambadorj, a contortionist performing in KOOZA

What do you think is key to pulling off a good show? In other words, what do you think makes a show ‘great’?

Odgerel Byambadorj: Having such talented artists from many different countries on one stage will make a show great for sure, but I think the most important thing is that everyone working on this show, on and off stage, all work hard with same vision and passion. And I think that’s very crucial to have a good show; a group of hard-working people with the same purpose.

David Rosera: What makes a great show is a story-line which will make your imagination blow away.

 

You’re performing in over 60 countries, do you notice any differences in how the audience across these countries have reacted to the show so far?

Odgerel Byambadorj: I’ve been to around 40 cities, and I definitely see some different reactions of the audience from different countries. For example, Japanese audiences are very quiet during the show, but they give flowers and gifts after every show. They are very sweet. Also, I remember thinking that the American audience cheered the loudest during the show.

David Rosera: So far, I have seen that every audience experiences euphoria and joy. It is clear to me that an audience prefers to watch a show which has an amazing connection with the public and KOOZA has it all.

 

How and why did you decide to enter the world of Cirque du Soleil?

Odgerel Byambadorj: Ever since I started practicing contortion, it was my dream to watch a Cirque du Soleil’s show, let alone work here. I did the casting when I was 10 years old, and I joined KOOZA after 4 years when they contacted my coach.

David Rosera: I decided to join Cirque du Soleil when I was 7 years old. At that time, I used to be a clown back in Colombia and I have never thought that I would one day be working with the best circus in the world, but I have made my way through it.

 

What’s it like being a performer in KOOZA? Can you walk us through what a normal day as a performer looks likes?

Odgerel Byambadorj: For me, every day is a little different. When there is one show, I’d usually get up at around 11 am and have a breakfast. I get to work at around 3 pm, and I usually have physio sessions, pilates class and some training backstage or on stage. I eat about 3 hours before warming up, and then later again during the intermission of the show. Doing my makeup and warming up take about 2 hours, so I start my makeup at around 6 pm. Our act is at the beginning of the show, so we start warming up an hour before the show. When I have some time during the show, I like reading a book. I get home at around 11 pm. Then, I like to watch series on Netflix and drink some tea before going to sleep.

David Rosera: A normal day for me would be to wake up early and have a very good breakfast. Then, I go to the Artistic Tent and warm-up and train to make sure that I am ready for the show that day. Some days, I have rehearsals in the Big Top with the entire High Wire cast. I also have appointments with our physiotherapist as well as our massage therapist. For dinner, when possible, I sometimes go out to eat some delicious local food before returning to the Big Top and get ready for the show.

David Milton performer from Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA

What do you feel when you’re performing in front of these large crowds of people? Do you ever feel nervous?

Odgerel Byambadorj: I used to feel so nervous before every show in the beginning, but now I don’t feel as nervous as much. But before every premiere, I feel nervous and excited. When I’m performing on the stage, I feel the happiest.

David Rosera:  In front of the public, I feel anxious when I go up to the wire to present the act. However, the stress is gone as soon as my feet are on the wire. It is something fantastic which fills me with so much happiness and the truth is, there are no words to describe this moment.

 

What do you do in order to get yourself into the zone for performances? And how do you unwind after a show?

Odgerel Byambadorj: Before going on stage, I go through my act in my mind, especially if there is a part I’m worried about, I’d imagine doing that part how I want to do it. It might sound weird, but I find that it helps me a lot mentally. As for unwinding, we do some core exercises and stretch all the muscles after the act.

David Rosera:  To enter into my zone, before the show, I apply my own make up and I train on the low wire to get very focused. After each show, I like to go to our kitchen and eat some fruits. During my days off, I also play tennis and soccer. I also like massages as it helps me to relax.

 

What are your plans for once KOOZA is all wrapped up?

Odgerel Byambadorj: I don’t think KOOZA is wrapping up anytime soon, but I’d like to continue working at Cirque, or I’d like to have my own studio back home.

David Rosera: If KOOZA closes, I would love to continue working on another Cirque du Soleil’s production. I would love to continue High Wire which is what I love to do. If it is not possible with Cirque du Soleil, I will try to join any other circuses that would allow me to show my talent and perform in front of a public.

 

You can catch KOOZA at Auckland in February 2019, click here to get your tickets!

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