Performances teem with life
AN army of insects is infiltrating Australia but these ones you won’t want to eradicate. Ladybugs, crickets and scarab beetles are among the critters that have immigrated with renowned performing troupe Cirque du Soleil, and they’re all interested in one thing – an egg.
This egg has been introduced to their world by a foreign fly in the latest Cirque show to open in Australia.
The show OVO, which means egg in Portuguese, portrays a day in the life of insects.
The three main characters are a voluptuous ladybug, a bright green beetle and the spiky blue fly that carries the huge egg.
For the insects, the egg represents food, love, reproduction and life, and it triggers curiosity among them.
OVO has already been touring internationally for three-and-a-half years after premiering in Montreal, Canada, in May 2009.
Artistic director of OVO, Marjon Van Grunsven, from Holland, says during the early stages of the production the cast would watch films and visit insectariums to learn how insects move.
Because of the variation of characters, Van Grunsven, 40, doesn’t put a label on the performers’ style, instead describing the movements as eclectic.
‘‘If you take our butterflies, it’s a wonderful love duo that is done by this duo in the air on a rope,’’ she says.
‘‘They’re very lyrical, they’re very beautiful and soft and tender and they’re in love.
‘‘But then if you take a cricket, they’re jumping three times their own height, and they’re trampolinists and they move differently, so they’re more sharp in their angles. ‘‘Or if you take a scarab, they’re supposed to be our warriors, they protect the community of insects . . . when they come out on stage you go ‘oh my god, they’re scary’.’’
At the start of the production, Van Grunsven says the artists were really young in their performing abilities, despite being acrobatic stars.
‘‘The performing artistic abilities had to grow, we had to work with that and still do every day – we remind them ‘hey, you’re not a person, you’re an insect’.’’
There are 54 artists and 12 artistic staff working on OVO, with 126 people involved in the show altogether.
Among the 54 artists there are 16 nationalities, something Van Grunsven appreciates.
‘‘I love the variety of things,’’ she says of Cirque. ‘
‘I love the variety of the nationalities within the cast and the teams you’re working with; I love the incredible excellence of each performance every day.’’
There are eight to 10 shows a week and Van Grunsven says by watching audience reaction overseas she has found OVO is liked by young and old.
‘‘I can’t wait to see the Australian audience . . . because it’s really an exchange between the audience and the cast and everything that’s happening . . . it doesn’t depend on the audience but it’s great when there’s a chemistry between the two.’’
Van Grunsven has been touring with Cirque since April 2007, and has been on the road working as a contemporary jazz dancer and choreographer since she was 19 years old.
Her role with OVO is to watch the shows and decide whether they can be improved or whether something needs to be ‘‘shaved’’ to keep them fresh.
‘‘It’s an ongoing, very creative process where we keep challenging each other and ourselves every day to put the best product on the stage,’’ she says.
That product includes the fantastic costumes, created by Liz Vandal, from Montreal. Along with the aforementioned insects, Vandal created spider, flea and ant costumes, and while doing so came across hurdles.
‘‘She started drawing and we looked at the drawings and we’re like, ‘OK, this is great, let’s try this’,’’ Van Grunsven says, ‘‘and then you put a costume on a performer that has to do a triple salchow off a 20-foot wall and, ‘Ah, OK, so that doesn’t work’.
‘‘So then you have to adjust it and you have to keep adjusting until it’s perfect.’’
Cirque du Soleil’s plays Brisbane until September 2.
Some of the stars of