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Entertainment // Art & Stage
Rasa Fournier

Quidam: A World Of Wow

Every couple years a surreal assortment of acrobats, jugglers, dancers, musicians and show people of every sort – call them extreme entertainers – arrive on our shores. It’s the incomparable Cirque Du Soleil. When Canadian founder Guy Laliberte looked up at the sun from one of Hawaii’s entrancing beaches 20 years ago, he imagined presenting a circus that was as full of energy as the Hawaiian sun. Voila … Cirque Du Soleil, “Circus of the Sun,” was born. With its latest installment, “Quidam,” in town, representative Jessica Leboeuf chatted with A&S.

What does “Quidam” mean? Quidam is a Latin word meaning a “nameless passerby,” referring to the people we walk past in the street and don’t really pay attention to. Every Cirque Du Soleil show has a name that is inspired by the world we create.

How big is the troupe? We have 52 performers and another 50 people working behind the scenes from 23 different countries.

Will the troupe have a chance to enjoy the Islands? We travel 10 weeks at a time and then have two weeks off. About 75 percent of the tour took advantage of coming to the Islands during our two weeks off instead of going home.

What is the performers’ daily regimen? In a normal week, we arrive in a city on Sunday night. Monday and Tuesday they rest. Wednesday they do their warmup and try their act on stage. Since we move every week, it’s important for them to get acquainted in the costumes to the new area, the height of the ceiling. They train a few hours a day on the first few days. Wednesday through Friday they train about half an hour backstage, half an hour onstage. Plus they do their warmup before the show. It’s not rare for them to stick around after the show to utilize all that great energy from the show to do their conditioning.

We also do cross-training, so an aerial performer will learn something acrobatic on the floor or vice versa. Or they learn maybe an instrument or another language. It’s a very multicultural, multitalented, multidisciplinary world that we carry with us.

How does everyone communicate? Everybody has lessons on how to act and do their makeup in our head office in Montreal. We also have a basic English lesson so that they can at least communicate a little bit. We all talk a lot with our hands.

Do the performers have a special diet? We have a catering company that follows us for the whole show. Most of them will eat less but more often so that they’re not heavy. Also, when you go upside down or twirl in the air, you have to be able to contain everything.

Let’s talk about their amazing costumes. We take about 300 measurements of their bodies because every single piece of costume is handmade for each performer. In Quidam that’s 2,500 individual costumes, and they’re worth probably more than $1 million. (Each performer has several sets of costumes.) Every time they perform the costume needs to be washed. We carry our own washers and dryers everywhere we go. We have a team of wardrobe specialists, plus we hire local wardrobe attendants who help us with quick changes, sewing projects and with cleaning and steaming. We need about six hours of cleaning and steaming of the costumes to get ready for each show.

Any other local hires? For our load in and load out, we hire close to 90 local stage hands and carpenters. We have 15 semis’ worth of equipment and we need to load everything in 12 hours, so we need a lot of hands.

During the run we keep a few of them to help us backstage. We have runners who know where to get any little things that we need around the city. We hire help for the kitchen. We also rent 100 hotel rooms and hire a bus company to help us get from the hotel to the arena. Our caterers are already in Honolulu gathering the places to get produce, ice cream – everything we’ll need for the run. Everything will be outsourced locally.

What can the audience expect? Expect to be amazed! With Quidam, we bring you into the imaginary world of a little girl. It’s a bit like your Alice in Wonderland story, but with the Cirque Du Soleil wow factor. You’ll see everything Cirque Du Soleil is known for: aerial performers, strong acrobats, a live band onstage and all of those beautiful costumes and makeup. It’s a roller coaster of emotion, and the music is wonderful. Throughout the show we build and build to the ending number, which is 16 acrobats onstage with just their strength, power, teamwork and balance, and they’re throwing and catching each other in the air, building human pyramids … you’ll just be at the edge of your seat the whole time!

The Ticket Stub

QUIDAM

When: Oct. 4-14 at 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat., with matinee shows Sat. at 3:30 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., and a 5 p.m. show Sunday Oct. 7

Where: Blaisdell Arena

Cost: $40-$100, with discounts for keiki, groups, military, seniors and kamaaina

More Info: cirquedusoleil.com/quidam or 1-800-745-3000

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