Hong Kong has been clamoring for more exciting events, and Cirque du Soleil has delivered with the opening of Kooza. Inspired by the Sanskrit word koza – which means box or treasure – the spectacle is an explosion of bright costumes, energetic acts and lively characters. We spoke to Troupe Artist Laura Kmetko and Wardrobe Assistant Greg Peyton about preparing to perform, how the costumes are created, and being in Hong Kong.
Laura Kmetko, Troupe Artist
What’s your role?
LK: I’m a flyer, which means I’m doing the tumbling in the air and being caught. There’s about 17 of us in an act, and there’s an acrobatic bit that we do at the beginning of the show, and in the finale number.
How do you prepare for the show each night?
LK: Generally, every artist does their own makeup, and mine will take me about an hour. That’s a very nice meditative space to get into before the show, in terms of preparation, mentally. During the day, we’re doing our own workouts and other physical preparation. At night, we also do our own warm ups, so every artist will have a different routine to physically get prepared for the role. I like to take a good half-hour to do that.
What are you most excited about doing in Hong Kong?
LK: I’m really excited about going to the Ladies’ Market! I’ve heard really good things about the city so I can’t wait, it’s going to be great!
How do you feel about bringing Cirque du Soleil to Hong Kong?
LK: I know that it’s been well-anticipated for Cirque du Soleil to come back to Hong Kong, so I’m really excited about how they react to our show. It’s a mix of traditional and really acrobatic numbers so I think they’re really going to like it.
Greg Peyton, Wardrobe Assistant
How many costumes are in Kooza?
GP: We have 3,000 pieces of costume for the show. When you see the show you will see about 1,200 pieces on stage, including all the shoes, the hats, and the wigs. All of our costumes are made and designed in Montreal, and shipped to us on tour wherever we are in the world, and we do all the maintenance and fittings.
How did you create concepts for the costumes?
GP: Kooza is very Asian and Indian influenced, so you’ll see a lot of bright colors like red and gold, and metallic in the show. The other basis of the show is very traditional art, so for example, we have costumes for our contortionists that are based on paintings by [Gustav] Klimt.
What are the costumes made of?
GP: Our costumes are mostly spandex and lycra. The reason for that being that most of the acts need a lot of freedom to move, and these materials give them that. One of the great things about Cirque du Soleil is we don’t go out and source fabrics. We get all of our fabrics printed and woven for us, and if we want something specific it’s made for us.
Which is the most expensive costume in Kooza?
GP: The Crooner, who opens act two of the show. This costume is completely embroidered, from top to bottom, and has over 1,700 handset Swarovski crystals on it. So in terms of materials it’s expensive, but labor is what makes this costume so expensive. The mask is all hand-painted and hand-stoned – so you could actually buy a car for for the price of this mask!