We’ve been fortunate enough to attend Cirque du Soleil shows before and are always amazed. But when we heard that the next show, LUZIA, was Mexican-themed, we were particularly interested. Beyond just the mysticism and unreal feats, there was a different look to this show, judging purely by the advertising, that is! It got us curious so we asked to speak to Francis Jalbert, publicist for LUZIA. Read the interview and purchase tickets so you can see what’s special about LUZIA, coming to Denver June 1 – July 9.

Matt Beard / Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi / 2016 Cirque du Soleil


Q:    What is it about the Mexican culture that appealed to you so much that you wanted to create an entire show around that theme?
Cirque du Soleil opened a dinner show in Riviera Maya in 2014 called JOYA. Through the creation process of the production, our creative teams got to learn more about the contemporary culture of Mexico, which lead to the idea of creating a Big Top show with a Latin American feel. Daniele Finzi Pasca, the writer and director selected for LUZIA, has lived in Mexico for more than 10 years and has always wanted to create a show paying tribute to the culture that has warmly welcomed him and made him feel at homeInstead of representing Mexico in a realistic fashion, the creative team of LUZIA created an evocation of the country; a dream woven from memories, experiences and encounters, laden with inspirations deeply rooted in Mexican identity – a culture that has had a lasting impact on their lives.
Q:   People are always curious about what it takes to be a circus performer. Can you give me a little bit of a profile of the typical Cirque du Soleil performer, i.e. what kind of education do they have that leads them to this?
A:  Cirque du Soleil artists come from diverse cultural, artistic and acrobatic backgrounds. For example, the 46 cast members of LUZIA alone represent 15 different nationalities and come from either the world of competitive gymnastics, sports, traditional circus, contemporary circus schools, dance or music. Close to half of Cirque du Soleil’s 1,300  artists across 19 productions come from a sports background, adapting the skills they’ve learned in gymnastics, diving, synchronized swimming, mixed martial arts and many other disciplines to the requirements of acts featured in Cirque du Soleil productions. On LUZIA, many of the artists are alumni of the National Circus School of Montreal, a professional academy where students graduate with a college degree in specific contemporary circus disciplines. Artists coming from traditional circus usually come from generations of circus performers, learning acrobatics from their parents at a very young age and growing up performing around the world. Some of our artists are even self-taught performers with a unique talent that our audience has never seen before…We are simply working with the bests in the live entertainment industry.

Q:   What kind of training do performers have to have in order to be hired by Cirque?
A:    We are looking for highly-skilled performers across all disciplines with the ability of performing 8 to 10 times a week. Having stage experience is always an advantage, but some of our artists have never performed before joining one of our shows. It varies depending on the type of acrobatics or artistic disciplines they come from. For example, we tend to work with actors, dancers, singers and clowns who have had professional experiences before and know how to connect with the audience. In terms of gymnasts, most of them have never been in contact with performing arts, but we cast them for their physical abilities and the potential for artistic growth we see in them. Once they join Cirque du Soleil, all artists spend time at our International Head Quarters in Montreal to develop the skills needed for the role they’ve been casted for and if needed, learn how to connect with the audience, play a character, sing, dance, play percussions and learn about crowd animation.  

Q:    What kinds of demands are put on their bodies? 
A:    Our artists are high-level athletes, some of them are even former Olympians. They perform 8 to 10 performances a week in addition to attendinf a few training sessions where they work on maintaining the level of their performance and integrating new elements to keep the show fresh for themselves and the crowds who see it for the very first time. The acts are built though thinking that the artists will need to perform a specific skill 8 to 10 times a week. Therefore, the selection of tricks in an acrobatic act doesn’t represent the full level of capacities of the artist, but a level that will still mesmerizes the audience and will be safe to perform everyday. For example, a tumbler might be able to do a quintuple somersault in training, but in the show performs a quadruple.   
Q:    How long does someone typically perform in terms of their entire career? 
A:    The length of the career of a circus performer varies from one artist to the other and from one discipline to another. Most artists retire from performance around 40 years old, but some can keep doing it until they are over 65. It depends also on how well the artist has taken care of his body throughout his career. At Cirque du Soleil, each show travels with two Performance Medicine therapists who look after the bodies of the artists and do prevention treatments when needed to support the performance. Additionally, a message therapist is hired in each city to come to the Big Top a few times a week for sessions that the artists sign up for.  
I just love getting behind-the-scenes information! Having all of this background and behind-the-scenes information makes me want to see LUZIA even more. My sincere thanks to Francis Jalbert for taking the time to answer our questions.
Cirque du Soleil presents LUZIA runs June 1-July 9 in the Pepsi Center’s Parking Lot (Prius West Lot) at 1000 Chopper Circle in Denver. 
BONUS: Add the jaw-dropping touch of Cirque du Soleil to Mother’s Day this year with LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico. For a limited time only, tickets in price levels 1,2 & 3 are 25% off for selected Denver performances of LUZIA scheduled from June 1 – July 9, 2017 under the Big Top in Pepsi Center’s Parking Lot. For more information about this offer, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/usa/denver/deals. Regular tickets for all Denver performances of LUZIA are available online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia. This offer is valid May 1-14 ONLY.

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