Artist’s small stature celebrated as circus evolves

When Rima Hadchiti got the call to audition for Cirque du Soleil, it was an area of work she had avoided since entering the entertainment industry at four years of age. For little people, the world of circus performance had not always been the “celebration” it was in Cirque’s latest production, Kurios.

“I always steered away from circus because I wanted to not go into the norm of what short people usually step into,” she said. “I have a lot to say and I like to say it in an artistic way. It’s my voice and it’s my art and if I can’t do art, I can’t live, it’s part of who I am.”

At 100 centimetres tall and weighing 18 kilograms, Hadchiti is one of the 10 smallest people in the world. Hadchiti, who appeared as a contestant in Big Brother in 2008, said it was her character “Mini Lili” who shifted her long-time aversion to the circus. “I did a bit of research on the character and was able to work quite closely with the producers and directors of the show,” she said. “We were able to put a little bit of change to the character and more layers through it.”

Playing a 1920s Persian madam in the production, which was due to hit Australian shores for the first time on Wednesday, Hadchiti used her small stature to her advantage. “I watched a lot of old movies, I did a lot of character work based on opera singers and watching their mannerisms and tried to connect with that,” she said. “And so doing that as a short person, as well, it questions the grandness of a personality with their gestures versus the eye … I’m feeling her presence as a grand madame but she’s quite a short person, so your brain is getting tricked; you’re questioning things and that’s the goal of the character.”

Written and directed by Michel Laprise, Kurios is the tale of a fictional world and features acrobats, contortionists, hand-puppeteers, yo-yo masters, musicians and clowns performing to a gypsy jazz, electro swing type soundtrack. It features a cast and crew from 20 countries.

Hadchiti, who joined the production in 2016, said Australian audiences would see the “creme de la creme” of circus performers from across the globe. “It’s a very unique show and this is like a United Nations of a family,” she said. “It’s full-on talented, dedicated artists [who] have sacrificed their whole lives to circus.”

{ SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald }