The Style of Cirque Du Soleil: Peek Inside KOOZA’s Closet
Surely you’ve spotted the giant tents near Reunion Tower. Peaked and white and deceptively plain, they conceal the dazzling, color-splashed world of Cirque du Soleil’s traveling acrobatic spectacular, KOOZA.
With the show brand-new in town, DFW Style Daily was granted an exciting inside look at the inner workings of the KOOZA camp (and closet) last week. Much buzz surrounds these visitors, and a glimpse of their world revealed more than meets the eye.
Our first guide was Makeup Designer Florence Cornet. With Cirque Du Soleil since 2004, Cornet’s celebrated work has appeared in multiple television programs and stage productions.
As for KOOZA, unlike the rest of the Cirque line-up, this show is considered a return to the origins of the troupe. It also represents an homage to the tradition of clowns. Quite the challenge, from a makeup perspective – but Cornet’s up to the task.
“I used the traditional colors of the clown – black, red and white”, the artist explained of her palette. “The real splurge is the gold leaf touches, which are African-inspired.”
Concept is one thing, but we were surprised to learn that the clowns apply their own makeup. In fact, this practice is a crucial factor in their performance art. Revealed Cornet, “The shaky lines and bold-gestured strokes are the trick. You can see movement in the direction the performer applies [the makeup]. The gestures mimic that of the acts.”
When queried as to her favorite character, as impossible as it may be to choose, Cornet responded without hesitation. “The Trickster,” she declared, naming the show’s candy-striped charmer. “The spirit of the clown is in this character. …I still get goose bumps!”
As our visit transitioned from a sit-down to a tour of the Cirque grounds, a tent curtain parted to reveal a wardrobe staging area. Located behind the main stage lies this virtual library of every costume, accessory, and prop in the show, before a row of three illuminated mirrors.
Presiding there is Collette Livingston, Costume Manager and guardian of KOOZA’s wearable treasures. Livingston granted us access to the work area housing several of her team’s sewing machines, and its unified hum was proof of the hard work that goes into each show. Surrounding the work area, dozens of trunks line the walls, each meticulously organized.
“We have one backup costume for each character,” Livingston detailed as she rifled through the archives.
With a gasp, she then revealed a rhinestone-encrusted suit with embroidered swirls and rosettes. Among the costumer’s favorites, it is used during the opening of Act II, known as the Skeleton Dance.
And where did the inspiration come from for this wacky and ultra glitzy piece? “We took inspiration from the Day of the Dead, and Liberace for some glam,” Livingston answered with a giggle.
From the first inspiration to the last standing ovation, KOOZA functions like a well-oiled machine. Rather, make that a well-glittered machine. The world and life of the circus is always a wonder, and meeting just a couple of the creative minds behind this tremendous high wire act left us eager to indulge in the full performance. In town through October 28th, tickets are available via CirqueDuSoleil.com/KOOZA.
(All official KOOZA photos: Courtesy of Cirque Du Soleil)