I had the amazing opportunity to attend Media Day for Kurios–Cabinet of Curiosities and go behind-the-scenes before Opening Night. Kurios is the latest Cirque du Soleil show to arrive in Houston under the Big Top through May 21 at Sam Houston Race Park.
Unlike other shows by Cirque du Soleil that are based on fantasy worlds, Kurios is set in the 19th century. It’s partial reality and imagination with a surreal twist. It’s the period of invention (steampunk) and a tribute to imagination and curiosity.
What Makes Kurios Unique
I had the chance to interview Dawn Wilson of Ireland, the assistant artistic director for the show. She’s spent 19 years working touring shows with Cirque du Soleil. In her current role, her job is supporting the artists and keeping the performers and show of high quality. I loved to hear that Kurios is her favorite show of the nine touring shows she’s been involved with!
“What makes this show unique is taking familiar
circus acrobatics and giving them an original spin
or an element of surprise,” Dawn Wilson says.
“You can hear gasps in the audience! It’s asking questions like ‘how can we spin this and make it more shocking and interesting,'” Wilson relates. She says some acts are designed just for this show.
One example is the acronet, a trampoline-like net that suspends across the whole stage. This is original to Kurios. This act features sea-like creatures that bounce and propel with street-style moves 30-40 ft. in the air. Another is the Rola Bola act with cylinders and balance boards. Not only is this a difficult feat on the ground but the artist takes it 30 ft. in the air on a swing!
The storyline in Kurios is centered around an inventor (a Seeker), who believes an invisible world exists in his larger-than-life curio cabinet. It’s a place where crazy dreams and grand ideas are ready and waiting. These curios come to life throughout the show. If you follow the clock on stage, his imagination and dream world take place all in one minute!
This show is just fun. Not only does it have the amazing circus-type sequences complete with talent and originality (aerial bicycle, contortionists, unique chair balancing act) but also plenty of humorous moments. One whole act is the miniature Invisible Circus filled with details such as the splash when the invisible diver makes his dive into the water or the swinging bars while the invisible trapeze artist performs! It’s clever and fun.
Living in an International Village
Like every Cirque du Soleil show, Kurios is filled with team members from different countries. This show has 21 countries represented including the artists, staff and technicians. Wilson says it’s like a mini United Nations and that’s what she likes about working with Cirque du Soleil.
“Despite the different nationalities, we don’t see it in each other,” she relates. “We have a family feeling — it’s like a little village. We know the cliche traits of each other. We’re very lucky to have that upbringing.”
Tickets are still available to Kurios in Houston with prices starting at $35. Virtually every seat in the Big Top is great since it’s such an intimate setting. The show is located at Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 N. Sam Houston Parkway West.
Here are a few glimpses of Opening Night!
- The artists’ costumes are washed every night. Two people spend two hours a day doing the laundry, six days a week. That’s 24 hours a week!
- More than 100 costumes were created for this show.
- The artist who plays Mini Lili is 3.3 ft tall and weighs 39 pounds. She lives inside the belly of Mr. Microcosmos, which has its own lighting and ventilation.
- The steampunk-inspired mechanical hand (where the contortionists perform on top) weighs 750 pounds.
- The youngest performer is 20 years old. But many parents bring their children to travel as families on tour. The kids are home schooled or enroll in a local school.
Thanks to Cirque du Soleil publicist and Allied Integrated Marketing for hosting me on Media Day.