Cirque du Soleil’s internationally-known show KOOZA is currently in town and its talented cast have spent the past month performing to packed audiences in Auckland.
KOOZA had me in awe with thoughts of ‘huh, what, how?!’floating through my head as the cast performed tricks and stunts you have to see to believe. We caught up with a member of the 2019 cast (and longtime Cirque du Soleil performer), Marie-Eve Bisson who’s a stand out with her aerial hoop routine.
How did you get your start in the industry and what made you apply for a position with Cirque du Soleil?
I was a gymnast and a dancer. Cirque du Soleil’s IHQ is close to my hometown and it was a dream to be part of Cirque du Soleil one day. A friend of mine who did an audition got accepted and as they needed someone else, she suggested me. I did an audition at Cirque’s headquarter over 3 days, after learning aerial hoop, I presented what I had learned to the artistic team, they liked what they saw and I started the very next week. I signed a 6 month contract…and now I’ve been with Cirque for 21 years!
Tell us about your role in the current show touring Auckland, KOOZAand what is your favourite part of performing for thousands of people around the world?
Kooza’s story is about The Trickster (character) who has a magic power and controls everything from lights, to characters on stage, to performance and tricks, but I am the only character he can’t control and which he has no power over. I perform on an aerial hoop high above the stage, flying around the Big Top in a series of moves performed through the hoop. My favourite part of the performance is when you hear the audience reaction – hearing the clapping and “awes”and to see the audience expression as they enjoy watching the show.
What does an average week look like for you while on show in the touring city?
Waking up in the morning, stretching, eating a healthy breakfast, working on projects outside of the circus, such as Life Coaching and other personal pursuits as well as visiting the city we are in. In the afternoon I then go to the KOOZA site, I do my make up for the show which takes about 40 minutes – we all do our make up on our own. Then I warm up for about 45 minutes before the show starts, get into costume and then go on stage to perform!
Do you recall what career/job you wanted when you were growing up?
I dreamt of being a circus artist, but I didn’t think that I would be talented enough [laughs]. I also would have loved to have been a singer, but that for sure was not a match so I stuck with aerial performance! I also recall wanting to be a spy or an actress…I think that the inspiration to be a spy was because I wanted to play different characters which I can do now performing as a circus artist.
What is your favourite part of touring and where would you love to travel?
Touring is never boring, we always get really stimulated by the different parts of the world that we have the chance to visit. I have now been to over 45 countries during my career. Visiting Australia and now New Zealand was something I had dreamt of doing since I was 8 years old so I feel very grateful for having the opportunity to visit those countries. I also would love to travel to Hawaii, but I trust that life will continue to bring me places I can’t even imagine myself being at this point.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not preparing or performing?
Learn – I love to learn about things like health and food, I love doing life coaching and learning about people and what stops us from achieving what we want in life, how to get from where we are to where we want to be, becoming the best version of ourselves. It is so interesting, so many people with so many dreams and ways to see life and live life. The world is so rich of diversity and there isn’t one way of doing things, which I think is fascinating. So I love expanding myself to larger perspectives of life.
What is the best piece of life advice you’ve received / a mantra that you live by?
I have a few, but the one I will share is that, as humans, we like to have control over things, know exactly where we’re heading and how things will happen. We are uncomfortable with the unknown and try to find answers before it is time for us to receive them. So I try to relax more, letting go of control and the need to know everything ahead of time. Things will unfold, information will get to us, people we need to meet will cross our path. We need to try to be at a place where we are aware of this and open to receive it. Be at peace with the now. We only know so much at this point in time, we have a narrow view on what’s possible for us because we still need to learn the information to get to the next place. We have to let life guide us and direct the process, while we exert patience in the unfolding of it.
If you were to pinpoint a highlight of the past year (personally or career-wise), what would it be?
I actually have a few. Last year was an expansive year for me in my career, but the two highlights I will share with you are these ones. Circus Festivals are for circus performers, like the Olympics for athletes. Last year, my partner Jonathan Morin and I were part of two of the biggest circus festivals with our aerial duo performance. We won the Bronze award at the Monte Carlo Festival and the Gold Award at the Massy Festival. It was a true honour to receive these awards in my career and I have been feeling so grateful for it.
Where would you like to see yourself in one year, five years time?
There is still information I need to receive from life in order to answer this question but I trust the process and in the meantime, focus on what makes me happy in the now. Focusing on being happy is how the best things will unfold for me in my life. Merci!
You can run away with the Cirque team for a night like I did but only if you’re quick! Remaining sessions are selling fast now and the big top must close on 24th March.
Imagery: Brau Perez Marti – Costumes: Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt (2016 Cirque du Soleil)