Last night I had the joy of attending Cirque du Soleil Corteo in Atlanta. And, I even had the chance to go backstage to check out the rehearsal, warmups and some of the props and wardrobe. It’s not too often that I get invited backstage to a Cirque du Soleil show, in fact, it’s never. As a long time fan of the world-famous show name, going backstage for me was basically like one of the coolest things I’ve ever done (and I’ve done some pretty cool things).
Before I arrived at the Infinite Energy Arena in Atlanta where the show is being held until September 2, 2018, I had never seen a Corteo performance. I saw the press kit and read through the press release, but you just can’t truly grasp a Cirque du Soleil performance until you see it unravel before your eyes. And this time, leading up to the performance, I had the chance to see it all unpacked before the show.
About Cirque du Soleil Corteo
Created by Guy Laliberté Corteo first premiered in Montreal in 2005. Since then it has performed in more than 60 cities in 19 different countries as a Big Top show before transforming into an arena show in 2016. Now, in 2018, more than 8 million people have been captivated by the dream world of Corteo.
There are 15 different nationalities represented by flags which make up the cast of Corteo. Performers are from Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United States and Uzbekistan.
Cirque du Soleil Corteo Backstage
Interview with Corteo’s Publicist Maxwell Batista
I didn’t have a whole lot of time backstage, but I did get to see some pretty cool stuff and have a great chat with the show’s publicist Maxwell Batista. We talked about the performance, logistics, safety, and even a super cool tunnel system.
First, we talked about the story of Corteo which follows a clown named Mauro who is having a very vivid dream about his funeral which takes place in a carnival setting. And while that might seem macabre, it’s actually a celebration of his life. To turn a live performance into a dream, there are a lot of whimsical acts which involve floating, wardrobe, and four different languages.
Corteo, which means “cortege” in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.” -Press Release Cirque du Soleil Corteo
Keeping in mind that many of these performers have been perfecting their talents since they were children, and all of them have gone through the Cirque du Soleil School in Montreal, they are always evolving their skillset. Keeping their talents fresh is what makes them hireable for future shows. One of the things they learn in school is how to do their own makeup. Since Corteo is a traveling show, there is limited space for staff. This means no makeup artists. They also hire stagehands in the city where they are performing to unpack and set up the entire show in one day, then pack it all up again a few days later.
I learned that above all, safety is the show’s most important goal. They have performance therapists who watch every move the performers make during the show. They evaluate the performers before, during and after each show as well to ensure that they are in top condition. And if that’s not enough, they even get two massages a week (and sometimes an ice bath). Still, injuries and fatigue can and do happen. So in order to keep the show going, they change up routines or add a replacement until the performer is fit for full duty.
During my backstage tour, I was able to watch Stephanie Ortega rehearse for her rope act as well as the orchestra get ready for their captivating performance. One of the coolest things I got to see was the secret tunnel system that runs directly under the stage. This is how the performers go from one side of the stage to the other on a horizontal pully system. Basically, there are performers going back and forth on this thing the entire show. I’m not going to lie, I totally wanted to try it!
I also had the chance to watch a few of the performers warm up and check out the props and wardrobe. There are 80 costumes for Corteo’s cast designed by Costume Designer Dominique Lemieux. Check out some of my backstage photos below.
Seeing Corteo for the First Time was Like Watching a Dream in Real Life
There have been fine artists who have depicted dreams. One in particular who comes to mind in Salvador Dali who’s paintings have left millions feeling like they were dreaming. But to create a stage performance that depicts a dream, now that’s nothing short of fantastic. And that’s exactly what the creators of Corteo have done. From swinging chandeliers to floating beds and even a performer floating over the audience with giant balloons, every second of Corteo is like something from the most whimsical and fantastic dream you’ve ever had.
One thing that struck me was the language. Hearing conversations bounce from French to Italian and Spanish to English was captivating. It made the show that much more magical and hearing the dialects was like listening to a relaxing song. It just kind of swept me away as I got lost in the performance.
I had three absolute favorite acts. The opening act of the chandeliers which was designed by the creator who used to lay under his grandmother’s chandelier as a child and dream of swinging on it. In this act, three massive chandeliers are used as performance swings with acrobats weaving in and out of the bars. It was absolutely mesmerizing.
My second favorite act was the floating bed where the clown lay dreaming about his funeral surrounded by a variety of characters. As the bed floated around, some of the characters floated with it. The whole scene was very dreamlike and really gave the audience a sense of departure from their consciousness.
My third favorite scene was the “Helium Dance” which depicts a special moment between Mauro and his little Clowness who entrances the audience by floating over them with massive helium balloons. It was shocking and exhilarating all in one as this little Clowness bounced aimlessly off the hands of spectators with a delightful tiny laugh that simply gave me all the warm and fuzzies.
If you haven’t gotten your tickets to see Corteo yet then don’t wait, this is a Cirque du Soleil that shouldn’t be missed.
Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo will play at the Infinite Energy Arena from August 29 – September 2
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 – 7:30 pm
Thursday, August 30, 2018 – 7:30 pm
Friday, August 31, 2018 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, September 1, 2018 – 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday, September 2, 2018 – 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm
For tickets and additional information visit: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/usa/duluth/corteo/buy-tickets
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