By MIKE CHAIKEN
Acrobats, jugglers, and aerialists, to those outside of the world of circuses, may seem like rare animals.
They are creatures that you are unlikely to find in your neighbor’s house or hanging out at the local suburban mall.
But for troupes such as Cirque Éloize—which has set up a month-long residency at Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Fox Theater—by necessity, they are not as rare as you would think.
Maxime Charbonneau, director of business development, marketing, and communications, explained Cirque Éloize has dedicated staff that is responsible for finding the talent needed for the troupe’s two shows on the road and a third in creation.
“We have a large data base of talent,” said Maxime, calling from Cirque Éloize’s headquarters in Montreal. “You’d be surprised by how many resumes, demos and videos we have… there are a lot of people doing some of the acts we have.”
The supply is often fed by circus schools based around the world, said Maxime. For instance, in Montreal, the National Circus School calls the city its home. There are also great circus schools in San Francisco and Minneapolis, said Maxime.
At the National Circus School, Maxime said scouts from Cirque Éloize make a point of attending the final show put on by the graduates-to-be each year. From that performance, the troupe—as well as other troupes such as Seven Fingers and Cirque Soleil—will find the new, up and coming talent.
But the circus schools aren’t the only place talent is developed.
For instance, Cirque Éloize’s bicyclist Thibault Phillipe said he learned his talent by watching his brother perform stunts on the bicycle. He followed suit soon after. Since his talent is unique, and the pool of trick cyclists is small, he is constantly recruited to join shows such as Cirque Éloize’s “iD.”
“It’s constant work,” said Maxime of recruiting talent for Cirque Éloize since many of the artists are only under contract for a year. “We have to be aware of who is available and what their talent is.”
The talent that arrives for Cirque Éloize “iD” also helps shape the show, explained Thibault. Although there is a set structure for the show, it is flexible enough that it can be shaped by the talents of the performers who join.
For instance, said Maxime, the company may hire two dancers and both are taught the same choreography. But within that choreography, the dancers will put their own little spin on it. And that will make the show just a bit different, he said.
Often times, said Maxime, the new talent’s arrival even may push the veteran crew to change up how their performance will mesh with the newbies. The veteran talent will be pushed to try new things as well.
“It’s constantly evolving,” said Maxime of “iD.”
Press materials describe Cirque Éloize’s “iD,” as a “modern circus (that) transports audiences to a vibrant urban streetscape as the stage comes alive with boundless energy of acrobats, break dancers, and contortionists.”
Unlike a Cirque Soleil, where there are elaborate costumes and make up, “iD” is much more based on reality, said Thibault. The costumes on stage often reflect what the performers would where in their every day lives.
“It’s really nice to see real people who connect to the audience,” said Thibault of “iD.”
As a fan of circuses, Maxime—who has worked in that particular performance universe for 10 years—one of the things he likes about Cirque Éloize’s “iD” is the human element of the show. With just 15 artists on stage, the show still has a human size. “The artists can still touch the public,” said Maxime.
And with that proximity to the audience, said Maxime, “There’s an energy that’s contagious.”
“It’s a very energetic show,” said Thibault. “It’s something they (the audience members) have never seen before.”
With that energy, said Maxime, “Kids will love it.”
Cirque Éloize knows audiences from Boston, New York, and Hartford are very circus savvy, said Maxime. And with “iD,” he said, “They can expect high quality performances.”
And each performer, said Thibault, is an expert in more than one discipline, which adds to the entertainment value. Although he comes in to the troupe as a trick bicyclist, he performs other skills as well in the show.
“It’s hip and cool,” said Maxime of the show. “It’s fun to watch.”
And when people leave the theater, said Maxime, they will say to themselves it was great show.
Cirque Éloize “iD” will appear at Foxwoods in the Fox Theater until Aug. 30 every Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m., with matinee performances each Wednesday and Saturday along with a special matinee performance on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. The show will be dark on Mondays. Visit www.foxwoods.com for a complete schedule.
Tickets to Cirque Éloize iD show are $40, and are available for purchase now at www.foxwoods.com or by calling the Foxwoods’ Box Office at 1-800-200-2882, Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or in-person by visiting the box office. Child rates and packages are also available.