Fabrice Lemire – Artistic Director
“Varekai: From Big Top to Arena”

Adapting a product for use in a different venue or product is a cost-effective way to get additional value out of development costs. Thought of in an extreme case an example might be local police with equipment originally designed for the battlefield. Or filming a show to be able to sell to cable TV, video-on-demand, or on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s not like you’re creating a sequel – it’s not a new product or show created with some of the same parts, characters or artists. It’s more like making Arena Football from NFL football; the player types desired, goals, and many of the rules are the same, merely adapted to fit a different venue.

Cirque du Soleil has brilliantly opened many lucrative new markets to its shows worldwide by adapting shows that have played in Grand Chapiteaux (with all the infrastructure that entails) to now play in Arenas. While there are many places you might be able to set a Big Top, there are many, many more that have basketball/hockey rink-sized Arenas. You can’t always set up a Big Top where you might like, especially in Europe. But nearly every city of some size has an Arena.

In order to reach those smaller markets, Cirque thought smaller and quicker. Playing in arenas means no Grand Chapiteau to set up and tear down, and reduces the number of trucks needed from 60 containers to around 18 trucks. Nor do they need their power supply and environmental units. And Arena shows can play profitably for one week in a town, unlike Grand Chapiteau shows which need 4-6 weeks in a city to make money.

But you just can’t take a show and insert it, unchanged, into an arena. It’s much more involved than that.

And that is where Fabrice Lemire comes in.

FIRST EXPLORATIONS

We first explored the process of adapting a show from Grand Chapiteau to Arena (what Cirque calls a “transfer”) in a conversation with Mark Ward (Quidam’s “John”) in Issue 89-July, 2011 (http://www.cirquefascination.com/?p=2616). But we wanted to go deeper. When a show very close to my and my wife’s hearts, Varekai, made the leap we got the opportunity to speak with the man who headed the transfer.

Fabrice Lemire (fahb – REESE LEW-mee-air), 44, was born in Paris, France, and received training at the Paris Opera Ballet School (https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/les-artistes/l-ecole-de-danse/presentation) starting at age 3 and graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (http://www.conservatoiredeparis.fr/en/accueil/) at 16. By the time he was 19 he was a principle dancer. At 30 he decided to focus on choreography and directing and has choreographed and directed works for many different companies. He also served as Guest Teacher for Celine Dion’s “A New Day” show. It was here he was noticed by Cirque, who snatched him up to be Dance Master for ZAIA in Macau.

In summer 2010 Mr. Lemire was plucked from ZAIA and given the challenge of transferring a show. But it wasn’t Varekai, it was Quidam, and it wasn’t why he was moved to the show originally. “This was my very first directorship for Cirque du Soleil in any position,” Mr. Lemire said. “I was going there as an assistant artistic director, but after a week on the job I was told that I was actually going to take over the show for the transfer. So what happened was pretty much the same approach that we later did for Varekai. They had me on the big top tour for almost a year so that I could really grasp the artistic element and what was going on from all aspects; all the problems we might be facing. This also allowed me some time to come up with a plan.”

But performing the show in an arena wasn’t brand new to the cast or crew, as Mr. Ward explained when we talked with him in 2001. “We had done a small arena tour in the UK [Ed. For 8 weeks in Feb-April of 2009, visiting Liverpool, Belfast, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin, Sheffield and Glasgow], and performed in the Royal Albert Hall [Ed. In Jan-Feb of 2009]. So we had some experience with Quidam in arenas, but [now] it was going into arenas full-time.”

They plunged right into the transfer process immediately after drawing the curtain on Quidam’s big top life. As Mr. Ward continued, “We really didn’t have a break because [after the final Grand Chapiteau show in Bogotá, Columbia on Nov 21, 2010] we did a six-week arena tour in Canada at the end of [2011] [Ed. From Dec 11, 2010 – Jan 16, 2011] with the cast we had for the South America tour. We played Kingston, Montréal, Québec City and Chicoutimi. Then in January we stopped because we had a 60% new cast of artists. So we went to training in Montréal for two weeks [the last half of February 2011] where we met new members of the show. Then the whole group went to Nashville and trained there for six weeks [all of February to March 8, 2011] to get everything together. We just basically [rehearsed] the full show from beginning to end for everybody – technical, artists, and everybody – to get an idea of how it runs and put things together from top to bottom. For us it was like being in a theater built for us because they set up a stage in Nashville [at Bridgestone Arena (.com)] and we used that space every day for over a month.” The first Quidam show in its new Arena form played in Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 9, 2011.

NEW CHALLENGES

The experience of transferring Quidam into an Arena format brought to light many of the types of challenges that would need to be addressed with future shows. This would serve Mr. Lemire well when the time came to transfer Varekai. But before the show could be transferred it would need to be revamped to accommodate Cirque’s new lowered financial reality. “Varekai was converted to arena because we had been through every single market in the big top and it was time for Varekai to reach out to a new demographic,” Mr. Lemire explained. “But the conversion (to arena) was different from the (budget-cutting) revamp. And this was a wonderful stepping stone for Varekai, because we started with the revamp and the transfer came right after that.”

The revamp process began with Mr. Lemire’s first viewing of the show. “When I take a show over, including Quidam and Varekai, I don’t research or watch any video beforehand to get my first impression of the show. So when I took on Quidam and Varekai I knew nothing about those shows at all. I wait until I am watching the show with an audience and letting the show speak to me. I came in, and for the first three shows I just watched and took notes; what speaks to me in a good way or bad way. And I continue like that for three or four days. And then I evaluate what I can start with.”

“That’s what allows me to make changes, [such as] when we’re talking about reducing performance time. Because what spoke to me on the first day is naturally what I want to deal with first, ‘This needs to be changed, this needs to be shortened a little bit, this part needs to move a little bit faster so we can keep the focus on what’s going on, etc.’ And [that’s how] we find the right rhythm.”

“When I first came to the show, to me it was 25 to 30 minutes too long, and I managed to cut 25 minutes. But not just by cutting acts, [though] I cut two acts and actually replaced one. The triple trapeze which was in the big top with four girls is now [done] with a single trapeze girl. And the water meteors act which was done by three young Chinese performers was cut because the arena format doesn’t allow any minors. I also created an act for a solo baton twirling girl; she’s Japanese, she’s phenomenal, she’s one of the best backup acts a show could have. That act is easy to place, I can place it anywhere in the show without interfering with the flow too much.”

“But what I mostly did was tighten, such as with transitions. Sometimes people would look at me like I was crazy. But instead of cutting into the next act because it was too long I [had a conversation with] the musical director Brigitte (Larochelle). I said, ‘This song is a ballad, it’s a slower piece. What if we played it slightly different and made it a little bit faster? Not crazy like a sped-up record, but it could [still work].’ So we tried it, and we were able to cut a good minute or so by just playing and singing faster, so it worked. In other places I just managed to cut part of the scene.” The show today is two hours, including intermission, with each act coming in at around 41 to 42 minutes each. It was a good 2 1/2 hours long before the revamp. “Speaking just for myself and my experience with this show, I felt that the scenes themselves were telling me that the show was too long. I love when my audience leaves a show and asks for more. I’m the kind of director who doesn’t give the audience too much. And I think this is the way Varekai is now in its current shape; you want to see more.”

SECOND TIME AROUND

It was two years later when the call to head another transfer would come from Montréal. Mr. Lemire joined Varekai in November 2012 (while the show was in Santiago, Chile) a year before the show was converted to Arena. The last Varekai show in a Grand Chapiteau was Mexico City, Mexico on November 24, 2013. 18 days later the first Varekai show in an arena was Bossier City, Louisiana on December 13, 2013.

While his experience transferring Quidam would be invaluable, the transfer of Varekai was done to a much different timetable. “The timeframe for the transfer between the two shows was extremely different. For Quidam we had over five weeks in an empty arena with no shows, just to really do the transfer. For Varekai it was a quick turnaround of 2 1/2 weeks. On Quidam I had perhaps less [influence], since I was only speaking for the Artistic side, while on Varekai I was the only remaining director from the Grand Chapiteau version doing the transfer.”

Mr. Lemire then explained the division of responsibility inside a Cirque show. “On Cirque shows we have three directors: the Artistic Director, the Technical Director, and the Company Manager. The Company Manager and the Technical Director from the Chapiteau did not accompany Varekai for the transfer; I was the only director in charge. So I became the link to take the ship with me to [do the] transfer and integrate not just new artists and artistic staff but facilitate the integration of new crew members and new heads of departments, and also a new Company Manager and Technical Director who came later when the show was in transfer.”

“Knowing that I had done the Quidam transfer already, I [knew I] had to really prepare myself. For Varekai we had a lot of deadlines; the major deadline was the timeline of the transfer itself, the 2 1/2 weeks (Ed. From 11/25 to 12/12, 2013) in Bossier City in Louisiana (Ed. just across the Red River from Shreveport in the northwest corner of Louisiana, www.shreveport-bossier.org). We were given an arena (CenturyLink Center.com) where we could take 2 1/2 weeks to restage the whole work and make all the adjustments necessary. The obstacle that we had in Bossier City was that they already had two shows planned during our stay in front of an audience (on December 13 & 14, 2013). This was actually a very tight deadline, but we knew it would be. And right after Bossier City we took the show and presented it in its new format in Montréal. So the stress level was very high. What we had to do within the last year to six months in the big top was the maximum preparation possible technically, artistically, and everything else we could. So that when we arrived in the arena in Bossier City we were ready to face other new challenges.”

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS

While there were many technical challenges involved (more on those in a minute) his first major concern was the cast and crew turnover. Mr. Lemire needed to give his personnel time to get adjusted to the new environment within the compressed time schedule. “Remember one thing: even though there was not much of a change-over with artists (we replaced maybe five or six artists out of 50), only one person from each technical department stayed on. Everyone else was new and coming into a new show. So there was a lot of education to do. Some of the artistic team was new, and many of the technical crew, at the same time you are educating artists. Some of [the team] had never seen the show before so they were starting from scratch. [For example] a lighting person behind the console has to anticipate a scene, he cannot just say, ‘Oh yes I’m changing to the next scene.’ It’s a learning process that everybody has to quickly adjust to.”

“I think artists need [time] to understand what an arena is. In the big top they’ve had the same backstage area and tunnel entrance to the stage for many years. They have their points of reference. In an arena, even though we try to re-create the same space in different venues, it’s always different. So the mental adjustment for the artists was huge. They could see the backdrop, and see where backstage is, and know we cannot have full light back there because the light will leak into the front. So they had to learn to practice, to do tricks and high acrobatics, in new lighting conditions. All of this was a major adjustment for the cast.”

“I also wanted to have my performers, the artists, understand the relationship that they have not just with the proximity of the audience, but also what do you do, how do you reach an audience member that is sitting in the very last row of the arena? Sometimes it’s as simple as pushing their projection. Sometimes you don’t want to do that, sometimes you want to create the illusion that the performer is right in front of you. And the way we would do that would be with lighting. In a movie you would do a close-up on somebody and the people in the background would be a blur. The audience’s mind is really looking at the in-focus image. So how do you create that in an arena? It may mean changing the intention of the artists. Sometimes it’s to not add on material because it gets too busy and the eye does not have time to register what’s going on due to the distance. Sometimes it’s cutting to a simple message so the intention is clear to the audience. Sometimes it’s playing with lighting to create a focus, to isolate you and lead you to look at a certain scene or a certain performer on stage.”

“I felt the biggest artistic challenge was for the clowns. The clowns feed off the reaction of the audience, so they are used to listening for laughter so they know when to move on to the next joke. In an arena, even though the audience may be laughing, the distance may not give you the support you need. This was major for the clowns and they felt they were not funny, that in the beginning they were not getting the reaction that they should have. And it’s a major adjustment for them to continue on with the pattern of the act while feeling that they are not being appreciated. This also was a big lesson to learn, how do you continue and motivate yourself when you don’t get the feedback that supports what you do?”

IT’S ALL NEW!

While most of the artists (and their custom-made costumes) can transfer directly from one version of the show to the other, the same cannot be said for the stage they stand on. Remember that Varekai was created in 2002, so their systems were 12 years old. In fact, much of the equipment used in the Arena version is brand new – stage, lights, sound, rigging – to take advantage of the latest technology. So they not only had challenges adapting to a new space, but how they would work within the space had to be learned from scratch.

It was important for Mr. Lemire that, at the very start of the process, he had input from the Varekai creative team. “A good year before the transfer (Show Director) Dominic Champagne and Stéphane Roy, the Set Designer, came to visit,” Mr. Lemire explained. “So we had an opportunity to sit down and grasp what really was the intention and original idea of the show. And also for me to validate some of the ideas I had, because I had led a transfer on Quidam so I had a better understanding of what some of the obstacles would be. [We looked at] the reality with regard to the look of the show in the larger space. This allowed us to be on the same page to do some things.”

“Like we decided to extend the forest. In the big top we had this blue backdrop in the back upon which we could create shadows. But in the arena it will be a black drape which would really cut the look of the back of the stage. So how do we give the illusion that we can go deep into the forest and have perception of depth through the space? So we added trees all the way behind the ramp to where the artists come on stage. It’s a really nice feeling that you are on the border of this forest and you can walk in and keep walking and lose yourself in there.”

“Also, what I love about Cirque is that they have live musicians. And in the big top I felt the musicians were lost on the backside of the forest, so far back that you might forget that the music is played and sung live. So I asked Dominic if they would be willing to bring the musicians within the forest so we could see them better and you could look at them. And Dominic was open to the idea. So we were allowed to bring the singers and musicians onto the stage more often to really have them be part of the scene.”

“So their visit was great to get everybody on board, and not find out later that the creator would come in and try and tell me that this was all wrong, that we were going in a completely wrong direction. I knew I had the support of Dominic and I could move in that direction with those ideas.”

Nearly everything about the production had to be re-considered. Some issues were more vexing than others. “Another huge obstacle was when we found out six months prior to transfer that the catwalk where the grid is would be at a different height. In the big top there is a grid which allows us to [create a] very nice position [for] aerialists. You know, they can come in and out of the catwalk. We had to lower [the height] for the simple reason that in the tent the grid is supported by four masts. In an arena the structure needs to be supported from the arena ceiling. So they need space to be able to anchor the grid correctly and have it solid enough that it can support the whole catwalk, the staircase, the artists, the lights, the sound, all the things on it. They need lots of space on top to wire it correctly.”

“We found out that the height of the catwalk in the arena would be different. So then comes the search. We know that all arenas are different, they all have different ceilings. I cannot ask my performers and my technicians to adjust every single week for a different ceiling height. So we had to agree on two heights, and those two heights are actually lower than what we have had for the life of the show in the big top. So we decided on two heights, an “A” trim and a “B” trim. Which means that we have to work to re-create the same act or transpose the act for the two new heights so it’s suitable for the artists and suitable for the stage. You also might need new props and sets and other parts. And it also impacts the lighting which would have to be adjusted. And the music to support the act would need to be adjusted, because an entrance which is now 6 feet or 12 feet lower would happen a lot faster.”

“So we had to re-create all of this in the big top. We cannot create the new setup in the big top, because we don’t have the structure to accommodate it. So instead we did a copycat of the setting with sandbags and what we call a “doughnut.” It’s a ring we use to better control the movement of the cable attached to the apparatus, and with sandbags we try to visualize what the look will be. And what we had to do six months before transfer was educate not only our artists but also those of the crew who would be with us at the transfer, and the bandleader, to [see] what it would look like. We’d play the musical backing track over the sound system in the big top and we’d evaluate – ‘Okay, the artist is touching the ground 15 seconds sooner so this music will not work.’ We had to anticipate all this but we couldn’t re-create it because we didn’t have the right structure – it’s all supposition. We knew when we got to Bossier City that we were going to have two weeks to work on it. To me this was actually one of the major obstacles. Because we had to redesign all or part of some of the acts because how they were done in the big top was not suitable in arenas due to the new height and lowered ceiling.”

“So you can imagine the two and a half weeks in Bossier City were very intense. I can go on and on. The adjustment was huge! We were working nonstop. They delivered a new set and new pieces of scenery that had to be validated by the technical department and by the artists themselves. From the mats to the swings: is it hard enough, is it soft enough? For example, the very last scene, the Russian Swing act, has a platform in the middle and what we call “bavetted,” two large sail-like sheets (resembling a baby’s bib, which is what “bavette” means in French) where the artists land and slide into. The distance between the swing and the bavette was different and the distance between the swing and the center platform was different. This is major for an artist! The inclination of the bavette is different; this is major for a flyer. All of this can sometimes take months to validate, and we didn’t have that time. So I sent two flyers from Bossier City to Montréal to at least validate that it was suitable for the act. And they were the first act we put on stage to practice.”

LIGHTS AND SOUND

A new format meant all-new lighting and sound equipment, and more challenges. “There is a long list! (Laughs). We brought (Lighting Designer) Nol (Van Genuchten) in to redesign the entire show while we were in Bossier City, which was another huge challenge. Nol came in with the idea that he was going to re-create the show. But this is 2013 and the technology is different now. We now have the ability to use different lights, moving lights and all that, so why not use them? But in the meantime I am [working with the] cast, most of whom have been here for maybe not since creation but for a long time and suddenly we tell them the lighting is different and they wonder, what is going on? So it’s educating the entire cast about the new lighting for their acts. They would ask why it was changing. And the answer is it’s the reality of the transfer to the arena. And [Nol] jumped on board because this goes back to what you had in the big top. The ceiling height is completely different, so in two and a half weeks we had to adapt to new lighting.”

“[We also started using] a new lighting system called BlackTrax (http://www.cast-soft.com/blacktrax). BlackTrax is a genius invention, a small sensor device that’s placed on a performer and is computerized (so lights can track an artist’s movement automatically). However with BlackTrax we are not re-creating a show or creating a new show, we are putting a new fixture on an old show. [In our case] it was connected to a light fixture that was too heavy to track, so that when the artist would move the “brain” didn’t have the [ability] to accurately follow the action. So what we found in Bossier City was – ‘Oh my God, the artists are not lit!’ Perhaps the track was wrong and we would have to think of something else, because there might be interference with cell phones or perhaps the lights were behind the artists. This was a huge challenge for us because Nol the Lighting Designer used BlackTrax to replace one follow spot: we had three follow spots in the big top, in the arena we went down to two plus the BlackTrax, which should have covered all [our needs]. Unfortunately we didn’t realize that we were expecting BlackTrax to [accurately] track the artists. And during those two weeks in Bossier City I found myself having to adapt the performer to what BlackTrax could deliver. I was frustrated because I had to tell the artists, you cannot go to this area because the BlackTrax can’t catch you, or you have to move slower across the stage so that the BlackTrax can follow you. This was highly educational. It was time-consuming and unfortunately we could not use it for the whole show. What we learned is that BlackTrax should be used on a brand new production where everything can be brand new from the start and you can create with it from day one. So we learned that BlackTrax would only be partially suitable for our transfer.” A tough lesson to learn. “(Laughs) But we still use it in the show. Not to the extent we anticipated but we use it for some scenes and it’s helpful.”

It may not seem like it upon first glance (or, more appropriately, first listen) but the change in venue has a profound effect on the way the show and the music sound. “In the tent the sound is one way, with very low reverb. In the arena the sound will change every single week. When you’re performing and standing on stage you may not hear things the same because of the way the sound goes in every direction. You may not hear what you expect to hear for your cue, if you can’t hear the melody you can’t understand the music. The first week [the artists] were lost, they could not recognize what was being played. They knew the songs but the sound was very different when they were waiting in the backstage area preparing to come out on stage.”

“My bandleader had to learn a brand new computer system, which was all updated. The sound system was brand new, and most of my sound crew was brand new and had to learn the new system. For the arena we were given a new system that the bandleader had to learn from scratch; get familiarized with the system and redefine all the sounds to put into their computers. And then we needed to figure out how to meet the standards of the composer and the sound designer. Because since the show is played live we needed to re-create their intent. We support the live instruments with computerized sounds, so all this needs to be put together, and I think between her and the second keyboard player it took about nine months to reprogram all of these new aspects. Every other day they would come in for three or four hours in the Big Top in the morning to focus on learning the system and getting familiar with the new software, and then transpose every single sound, or find similar sounds to re-create the sound. Sometimes the sound evolves, so we had to anticipate (because we were still in the big top at the time) what the sound would be like in the arena.”

“We also had the views of the Composer (Violaine Corradi) and the Sound Designer (François Bergeron) in Bossier City to help us readjust and re-create and change the musical colors of the show so it better suits an arena. Which I found was magical, because with surround sound and new technology you can really isolate an instrument for a scene or moment. It’s exquisite. It really changes the depth and gives more richness to the colors of the music when you go to the arena.”

AUTO – MATIC

Automation was another major adjustment. “Besides the grid, there is a whole new level of technology, equipment and safety guidelines. We learned new safety guidelines and respect for them while we were in Bossier City. For example, when we fly an artist we used to do things manually. Before they had a guy behind the joystick who used to take them up and down and it was like a partnership. Now the show is entirely automated and the performers have to adapt to this. Today the partnership extends to three elements: the performer, the automation that the performer must trust and get familiar with, and the technician, riggers and Calling Stage Manager who are on the other side of the computer/console.” While the decision to fly and the timing are still made by humans, the automation provides smoother and consistent pick-ups and landings for the artists.

“It’s a huge leap for a performer. Let’s say Mark [Ward], who is John in Quidam. He’s done his act for seven or eight years with a guy who has been moving with him and going off his cues, and now you’re saying the computer is going to pick you up and set you down. The computer has a brain but it doesn’t have the ability to adjust quickly based on the daily mood of the performer. So it’s a huge adaptation for every single participant involved. I think automation is a really wonderful tool, but it needs to be learned, and that’s what we had to do. So we started automating acts while still in the big top. It was another aspect of what the aerialists had to learn in 2 1/2 weeks. Same thing for the platforms on stage and so on.”

TIMING – IS EVERYTHING

With all these challenges to the process, the 18 days given for the transfer was very tight. “This was a huge task that we delivered in two and a half weeks. Which, if you ask anybody – me included – we also learned that it was not enough time.”

“We worked 24-7. I worked with the artists during the day and at night I would work with the lighting designer and bandleader and the band. I found myself staying until 6am in the morning and coming back at 9am to continue our work. I even said one night that I didn’t have the energy to go back to the hotel for just two hours of sleep. It was just ridiculous. But we knew we had to deliver and we pushed it, we exhausted ourselves. I wouldn’t say we were burnt out, but we were on the edge of being burnt out when we came into Montréal.”

“So we learned [many lessons, such as that] BlackTrax didn’t work to its full potential for our show. So I sat down in Montréal and [told management] that there was a lesson here. While I understand time frames, for the health of the entire crew who were working like maniacs, and for artists, we didn’t have enough time.”

“My complete transfer was not what was presented in Montréal – it was the very beginning of the transfer. I [couldn’t work with] some artistic elements during the transfer because of all the [time devoted to the] technical changes. When I was in Montréal I closed my eyes to so many things because we had to present the show.”

“I wish I could have presented it the way it is now in Montréal rather than what I had to show six months ago. I feel like right now in Providence (Rhode Island – where the show played from June 2-6, 2014) where we’re near the end of this leg of the tour, the show is finally finding the shape it should be. It took until now for me to be able to watch the show and say that I’m proud of my crew and artists and everybody else. But today I am proud of the show I am presenting. It took all the way until six months into its arena life to be able to find what I call the “groove” of Varekai, to have the story flow the way it should.”

We in Cirque fandom have heard of the visits the core creative team would make to the show during its run to ensure it met their original vision. And we’ve heard how, though this was done often in the past, these visits have become fewer and far between. This has led to more flexibility being given to the touring team. “The Artistic Director along with the Technical Director and the Senior Artistic Director above them have the opportunity to take a show and have it evolve, actually more today than it used to be. We were told, and I believe, that Artistic Directors of shows should have the right eye, the right intelligence, to let the show evolve, to make the best of the show. With Dominic that’s the way I worked. Even though I might have my own vision of the show I will always respect the intent of the creators. I also like to sometimes consult with them on a new direction, and Dominic allowed me to do that with the show.”

“And I have amazing support from my supervisor, Denise Biggi (Senior Artistic Director) which also allows the show to breathe and go to the next level. For an Artistic Director that is magical. I’m not going to turn the whole show around. But at least I can use my knowledge and what I feel is important to influence the content. Technology is changing; the technique of performers is changing. Look at what’s available and also what is fashionable, and the show can evolve. Dominic has the ability to not feel so attached that nothing can be moved or changed. In my case, and I can only speak for myself and not for other artistic directors, I have a strong aesthetic. It can be musical, it can be in terms of the story or plot, it could be in costumes. Like Eiko (Ishioka’s) costumes; she’s not with us anymore, but there’s something that is unique about her costumes. I can watch shows or movies she’s been involved in and I can be influenced by that. Because there is a signature, like Dominic has a specific signature when he creates a show. I will apply all of this to nourish the show and keep myself in the background.”

COMING UP NEXT

We found out from Mr. Lemire that the next show to be converted to Arena format will be OVO. Even though Corteo is next in the show order, followed by Kooza. “If you look at the stage layout of Corteo,” commented Mr. Lemire, “it would be a major adjustment if they ever did decide to transfer it. It also depends on tour histories, where shows have been in the world. And if it is a good candidate to put in an arena.”

Having done two show transfers, it would be easy to consider Mr. Lemire Cirque’s experienced transfer expert, and have a long career transferring shows for Cirque. Mr. Lemire discounts that. “I don’t know if I am the “expert,” but I love helping creations transfer.”

“[But] what I love to do today is creation. Being assistant to the mise-en-scène, then be an assistant director, then move on to operations. That’s where I could achieve so much because it’s my forte, to really adapt and work from scratch with the team. I love collaboration. I don’t sit and boss people around, I love the process of working with people and sharing the excitement and joy of what comes alive when you create a show or when you transfer a show.”