We sat down with two Cirque du Soleil performers and their publicist when they came to Doha for some pop-up shows to find out more about life in the ‘big top’.
How long does it take to prepare for a performance?
Julie Desmarais (publicist): When Dralion was readapted for the arena tour, the performers went through trainings prior to the general rehearsals that started in August 2010. Tara [Pandeya, plays Oceane] for example arrived in June 2010 for general rehearsals to learn choreographies with the choreographer and then in August all the performers joined and they started to rehearse for the premiere in October. The training schedule depends on what needs to be rehearsed on stage and the amount also depends on the artist.
So it’s pretty rigorous then! How did you get into this?
Vladic Miagkostupov (juggler): I was born into a circus family so I’ve been doing this all my life. I sent Cirque du Soleil videos and they also saw me at the Circus Festival in Paris back in 2002. After that they contacted me and it was a few times they asked me for the show. Finally they contacted me and I joined in 2006 with Dralion.
Tara Catherine Pandeya (Oceane): I joined for the start of the relaunch of the arena version of Dralion’s touring, so almost three years ago. The process was a little bit different for me – it was through a granting organisation that I received a grant and then they passed it along to casting and the ball got rolling from there. I was classically trained as a dancer, I’ve always done performing on stage and I’ve done a lot of touring with other dance companies but never in this type of a setting working alongside acrobats and contortionists with pieces of the floor coming up and different things like that [laughs].
Do you enjoy this better than your previous jobs?
TP: I wouldn’t say better than before because there’s always something from both sides that you can see positive and negative. With dancing, every season you have a totally new set of choreography whereas on this show it’s the same choreography but it still keeps me on my feet. I still have to interact with a team of other artists that are moving in precarious ways around me [laughs]. Acrobats, trampolinists jumping past my face within inches so if I don’t have the choreography on the right beat within one second of moving back I could make them fall.
So it’s a lot of pressure...
TP: [Laughs] Yes but enjoyable pressure you could say. If you can say that!
How would you describe Dralion in your own words?
TP: I think it’s an extremely vibrant and exciting show – adrenaline-packed and upbeat. It’s kind of like a kaleidoscope of all these different colours and completely different disciplines brought together on stage and used together with the music.
VM: The show is very upbeat, very energetic, we have a lot of strong acts so yeah it’s a really good show [laughs].
What do you like most about your characters?
TP: I like playing my character Oceane, she’s the Goddess of Water. I really have fun exploring this character because I get to go into two really different extreme emotions with her. The choreographer has me at odds with fire. Dante Adele is my partner and he plays fire so I’m at odds with him. Any time that water comes across fire we have these choreographed fight scenes. It’s water and fire kind of exploding on stage with the trampolines; jumping up 26 feet of walls coming up and down. It’s fun to be able to have that duality with the super soft of the contortion act where this is my water family and I’m super soft and serene and then extremely vicious and angry [laughs].
VM: For me I’m more mischievous and more like a creature from the earth. I come out and I’m very sneaky and just trying to look around and then I kind of get more and more upbeat by the end of my act.
JD: The earth kind of balances the elements but he interacts with air, fire and water also so he interacts with all the characters.
How many people are flying out to Doha for this?
JD: There are 97 from 17 countries. We travel with our own set so we’ll be shipping by boat the equipment, which will fit in around 27 containers. It will take about two days to load in all the equipment on-stage before all the performers arrive and start rehearsing.
Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion will be performed in Aspire from September 19 to 28. You can buy tickets at the official website www.cirquedusoleil.com.