Saturday, September 19, 2015

KURIOS Cirque du Soleil Video Interview With Stu McKenzie, Straps Artist And Behind The Scenes Photo Adventure

ChiIL Mama's Adventures 
Behind the Scenes at 
in Chicago

Check out ChiIL Mama's original video interview with Stu McKenzie, Straps Artist. He's a high flying aerial artist and father of two, on tour with his family. He's playing a Siamese twin, subbing in for a half a year, for a performer who needed knee surgery. Stu was a competitive acrobatic gymnast in Great Britain for 10 years before joining Cirque du Soleil.

Photo Adventures:
One of my favorite things to do is take a camera and explore things others might not think to look at or stop to see. It's not only the obvious meaning of the objects, but the patterns, composition, lighting, and emotions they invoke... that creative spark that catches my eye and makes a shot irresistible.

Click HERE or on the image below for our full slide show. More favorites are embedded below. 

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It was my great pleasure to be invited behind the scenes at KURIOS during their 3 month run in Chicago. There I got to catch a glimpse of the inner working, the process that goes on behind the production. I find this endlessly fascinating whether it's an instrument waiting in the corner or a mini weight room.

Theatre and circus people can be a superstitious lot with interesting traditions. One story came out of my tour with KURIOS touring publicist, Amelie Robitaille, that I adore. There's a special, secret, treasure box buried beneath the arch entrance that contains the cast's wishes and hope for the production. It's sealed in the set and goes traveling to each new city with the show.

Even the mundane becomes somehow magic when it's back stage. Simple things like the laundry and the dining hall humanize the actors who are so gorgeously glamorous and larger than life every night. 

Rumor is, they travel with chefs and the food is fantastic. They have options for veg, vegan and meat eaters and a funky, fun tent to eat in. That (and the massage therapist who is available to the cast) makes me want to run away and join the circus!

They even have beers for after work, like the rest of us mere mortals.

There's whimsey and wonder in the the steampunk trappings waiting for repair and the sizable work benches cleverly constructed from their own unfolded packing trunks. 

It may not seem glamorous to fix ropes for a living, but this guy holds the power of life and death in his hands!

We were surprised and amused that the KURIOS cast has not only a hammock but a swimming pool behind the scenes for chilling out during their hot summer in Chi, IL! They all stayed in a hotel together, with shuttles to the United Center lot site.

KURIOS has loads of families touring with the production since the tent show tend to stay in each city for a few months, unlike the arena shows which are far shorter runs. Cirque touring shows are also a multicultural mecca with performers from all over the world, speaking many different languages and forming friendships.

This piece with the giant net serving as trampoline was one of our favorites in the show. It was truly a treat to get to be a fly on wall as they practiced. The net/tramp technology is new, so they began their act a bit conservatively, with choreography they were sure would work. Since then, they've been embellishing and pushing the boundaries as the show continues. All the large acts that can't rehearse off stage take turns with weekly practice time slots.

I was struck by the sheer athleticism of the performers. It's easy to think of the KURIOS cast as actors when they're on stage amid stunning costumes and sets, but back stage they're conditioning, hitting local gyms and putting in the hours to stay in peak physical condition, like the true athletes they are. The long running shows are an endurance race and these people have to perform incredible, superhuman feats on a nightly basis!

KURIOS cast and crew, we wish you all well on the next leg of your journey. Chicago will always always remember you fondly whenever we catch an 11:11 out of the corner of our eyes. You have brought joy to thousands, and left lasting memories. Heartfelt thanks. 

Missing KURIOS? Want more sneak peeks back stage at tour life? There's a cool, video series coming up imminently that we can't wait to check out. 

Follow the cast and crew of KURIOS on tour, and find out what hides in their Cabinet of Curiosities. From the Big Top to Costumes, Make-up, Food and much more, the 12 episodes KURIOS About The Webseries gives fans a behind-the-scenes peek at the Cirque du Soleil’s 35th creation.

Explore our universe and reality from the eyes of an insider, see the artists and the staff work with devotion to make the show happen day after day.

New episode every second Tuesday starting September 22.

#‎KURIOSabout Tour Life: your chance to discover what it's like to live on tour. Coming Sept. 22nd! #‎KURIOS #‎TourLife

More of ChiIL Mama's Original Photo Favorites:
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Colorful dining!

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