Today we’re taking you backstage for an up close and personal look at the costumes and makeup from Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza. Phoenix is the first stop on Kooza’s U.S. tour; performances are taking place under the white tents at University of Phoenix stadium until July 15. ( Yes, they’re air-conditioned ! )
Our backstage tour started in the wardrobe department with Meredith Tomkovitch; she gave us an insider view of what goes into creating, and maintaining, the costumes for a production of this scale.
There are over 1000 costumes in the show, worn by 53 artists from 17 different countries. The Kooza show combines two circus traditions: acrobatic performance and the art of clowning.
The costumes were designed by lead Costume Designer, Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt. Not only are they imaginative and completely captivating on stage; the costumes must hold up for many performances and allow the artists to move and perform extreme acts of agility like this.
In Kooza, these artists soar through the air on a trapeze, defy gravity on a tightrope, balance and spin in the Wheels of Death, ride, dance, prance, tumble and leap all over the stage for two and a half hours in each performance !
Once the show opens, the wardrobe department is responsible for maintaining the costumes; they spend 6 to 8 hours a day just washing, ironing and steaming them. They also take care of any repairs for the performers and replace the costumes when necessary.
There are many elements to the costumes – including masks, wigs, makeup, props and shoes.
The Skeleton costume and mask looks like this when you see it onstage !
The Trickster’s costume is literally pieced together and fitted on the performer as the stripes have to match up perfectly.
Many of the performers wear wigs; these are ventilated by hand and can take up to 40 hours to create, like this one worn by a trapeze artist.
These are the King’s boots.
If you look closely at the high wire boots, you can see they have a special glue, called Vitaflex near the soles: a sticky substance that helps them from slipping off when they’re prancing across that high wire suspended above the stage.
Vitaflex is apparently applied by the powerful sole-heeling evil Dr. Livingston ! Ha !
Next, we visited the Makeup Department. The three brands of makeup of makeup used most commonly in Cirque du Soleil shows are MAC, MakeupForever and Ben Nye.
They have drawers and drawers of makeup, as you can imagine. We watched as one of the performers applied his makeup.
This is Gavin. We tried to distract him by asking stupid questions and snapping photographs, but his powers of concentration were like, supernatural or something.
All of the makeup looks for Kooza were designed by Makeup Artist Florence Cornet. Each performer follows her steps to achieve the final look for showtime. Gavin’s look has 26 steps.
Each artist applies their own makeup for the shows, but there is a Makeup Supervisor on staff to oversee them.
And I’ll give you 3 guesses which mascara is used by the Cirque du Soleil performers ?
Here’s a hint. It’s probably the best-selling mascara of all time and you can buy it at the drugstore.
Yep. Good ole’ Maybelline Great Lash Mascara !
Hope you have enjoyed seeing the costumes and learning a little about what takes place backstage to keep this show running; you can still purchase tickets for Kooza here. Don’t miss it; Kooza’s last performance is July 15 !