Monday, July 16, 2012

Behind the Scenes (and Costumes) at Cirque du Soleil

Sketches of the Cirque costumes designed by Kym Barret for Totem
[courtesy Cirque du Soleil]

I promised you a very special guest post while I'm away, and here it is. Thank you again to Najeema of A Stylized Hysteria for filling in for me! Read this, then go check out her blog for some wickedly dry humor and amazing style.

While Marissa is off enjoying herself in Israel, I attended Cirque du Soleil in her stead, with the promise to report back and share photos of the amazing costumes I got to see close-up during a backstage tour. Man, I am such a good friend to cover for her, huh?

I’ve never seen Cirque du Soleil before, but the show’s reputation as being exhilarating, entertaining and magical is well known to me. And every good thing said about the show is true! Enclosed in a large tent, Cirque du Soleil has an intimate feel. Being so close to the performers while they fly through the air, dance and perform feats (like balancing a grown man on a 10 foot tall pole on their heads) makes it feel even more spectacular.

The show I saw, called Totem (but pronounced Toh-tehm if you’re feeling fancy. Or French-Canadian, where Cirque du Soleil originated), looks at human evolution, moving through the beauty of nature to the mysteries of space. While other shows might have more theater or comedy interwoven in the story, the costumes in Totem were just about the coolest things you could imagine. Side note: the costume designer, Kym Barrett, was responsible for the costumes in all three Matrix movies, which showcase the best use of latex and leather badassery ever.

Made of stretchy lycra, these costumes are printed with the most incredible and realistic frog and amphibian patterns.

This costume was probably my favorite. In case you didn’t know, my spirit animal is the magpie, so a bodysuit covered in 4,500 teeny mirrors is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

A close second was the costumes worn by the Crystal Ladies. Their costumes were covered in 3,500 crystals and highlighted in shades of soft purple, making them a feminine and pretty counterpart to the masculine strength of the Crystal Man.

Every performer goes through hours of training to learn to apply his or her own makeup for each show. Each look, step-by-step, is painstakingly documented and described in these giant binders that were almost as much fun to look at as the actual show.

Speaking of the performers, the most mind-boggling fact I got during the tour was about them. Was it that the performers come from 18 different countries and speak nearly as many different languages? No. Was it that the youngest performers attend school while on the road or the oldest performer is 61 years old? No. It was that after the two-hour acrobatic, physically demanding performance, many of the cast go right backstage to a gymnasium area and fit in another workout before calling it a night! I find this so crazy that I can’t even come up with a witty quip about it.

Totem was a fantastic experience. I can’t wait for a new show to come to Boston so I can lose myself in another evening of enchantment; I’ll be first in line to get tickets!

[All photos by A Stylized Hysteria or courtesy of Cirque du Soleil]


  1. These are amazing... I love going to their shows!!!

  2. StylethroughhereyesJuly 16, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Thanks for sharing these photos, the detail on the costumers are incredible!

  3. wow the costumes are amazing!

  4. ah-mazing!!! i have been to so many cirque du soleils it's a little embarrassing, lol. but every time i think it is so super magical. love this look at their costumes.

    also what? your spirit animal is a magpie?! such a pretty little bird :). i'm going to find mine out now.

  5. Thanks for sending me Marissa! I'm still ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the whole production!

  6. LOVED this post! What amazing close up shots? I've not been yet... 

  7. The Matrix~~~oh, yeah~~it’s a wonderful film,anyone who isn’t like it? I will say no !!  Especially The Matrix costume,very cool~~~

  8. Great guest post! I've always loved the Cirque du Soleil, I first saw the show in Vegas. Looking at posts like these always brings me back to my costume days, there's so much inspiration here! Definitely magical! Glad that you had a great time.