Cirque du Soleil Unveils – OVO



A teeming world of insects
written and directed by Deborah Colker

Montreal, April 7, 2009 – The latest Cirque du Soleil touring show presented by Desjardins Group, OVO, will have its world premiere under the Grand Chapiteau on the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal on May 8, 2009. OVO is the 25th Cirque du Soleil production in 25 years and is. Preview performances will run from April 23 to May 7.

The name
The name OVO means “egg” in Portuguese. This timeless symbol of the life cycle and birth of numerous insects represents the underlying thread of the show. Graphically, OVO hides an insect in its name: The two letter “Os” represent the eyes while the letter “V” forms the nose.

About OVO
OVO is a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The insects’ home is a world of biodiversity and beauty filled with noisy action and moments of quiet emotion.

When a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.

It’s love at first sight when a gawky, quirky insect arrives in this bustling community and a fabulous ladybug catches his eye – and the feeling is mutual.

OVO is overflowing with contrasts. The hidden, secret world at our feet is revealed as tender and torrid, noisy and quiet, peaceful and chaotic. And as the sun rises on a bright new day the vibrant cycle of insect life begins anew.

Cast and acts
The cast of OVO comprises 53 performing artists from 13 countries and director Deborah Colker, a renowned choreographer, has integrated dance movements into many of the numbers in the show.

OVO features many acrobatic acts including a stunning flying trapeze act: Six flyers fly as high as 14m, making this act the biggest of its kind ever presented under a Grand Chapiteau by Cirque du Soleil. This act is the most difficult in the world to execute in terms of the distance between stations. It combines many circus disciplines: banquine, Russian swing and swinging chair. The finale features 20 artists running, jumping and leaping straight up an 8m vertical wall.

The creators
Most of OVO’s 10 creators are working in that capacity for the first time at Cirque du Soleil:

  • Guy Laliberté — Artistic Guide
  • Gilles Ste-Croix — Artistic Guide
  • Deborah Colker — Writer, Director and Choreographer
  • Chantal Tremblay — Director of Creation
  • Gringo Cardia — Set and props Designer
  • Liz Vandal — ostume Designer
  • Berna Ceppas — Composer and Musical Director
  • Éric Champoux — Lighting Designer
  • Jonathan Deans — Sound Designer
  • Fred Gérard — Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer
  • Philippe Aubertin — Acrobatic Performance Designer
  • Julie Bégin — Makeup Designer

Sponsors and partners
Desjardins Group is the presenting sponsor of the 2009 Canadian tour of OVO. CGI, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Infiniti are the official sponsors.

The media partners of OVO in Montreal are Radio-Canada , Rythme FM, Virgin Radio and CTV.


“I’ve been fascinated by insects all my life. When I was a kid, they made me think of science fiction monsters, which I loved.”
                    — Gringo Cardia

Creating an organic space and interpreting nature
Designer Gringo Cardia was inspired by the concept of transformation, but he didn’t set out to copy nature so much as interpret it. “I wanted people inside the Big Top to see the world through the eyes of insects,” he says. “And to accomplish that I played with scale.” Gringo also drew inspiration from the structures that certain species of insect create when they establish nests and colonies.

Gringo has worked closely on many dance productions with OVO’s director Deborah Colker and they are used to a cross-pollination of ideas. He has contributed content to the show and she has brought ideas to the set design – neither approaches their role in isolation.

The overall setting of OVO is a stylized habitat that is home to the insects. At times it is a forest, at other times, a cave – or it could even be a house. Gringo’s objective was to create an organic environment that could lead to many other places.

The set elements: giant objects in a minuscule world
The show starts with a gigantic egg on stage, obscuring much of the performance space from view. The mysterious object from the outside world is an inexplicable enigma in the eyes of the insects (and a nod to the monolith from the Kubrick film 2001). This timeless symbol of fertility and regeneration reappears in other forms later in the show, laid by the insects.

The largest set element is the Wall, which is set against the rear of the stage. The performers climb on it, disappear into it and use it as a stage, a platform and a launching pad.

At first, the Wall is concealed by three enormous “skins” designed to create a sense of depth, and, through holes and openings, to reveal its secret life as a home to the insects as each of the skins are removed in turn.

Art imitating life
There are almost no straight lines to be found anywhere in the set. True to the organic inspiration of the show, the Wall is curved, and so is the stage. But there is one exception: the Spider’s Web. Real spiders’ webs are made up of straight lines, so this is a case where art imitates life with a nod towards geometry. It is made of strong woven synthetic straps.

Giant props that evoke nature
An enormous 20-ft mechanical flower appears on stage. The flower blooms and becomes much more than an overscale prop, it’s a character in the show. Part sculpture, part puppet, part robot, it is seen from the insects’ point of view as a towering, inspiring (and carnivorous!) feature of their environment.

Three tall poles rising high above the insect world represent the stems of dandelions. The spines on the stems enable the performing artists to climb them like ladders and appear at various levels above the stage, and there are human-powered self-propelled seeds that move around the stage.

Some facts

  • The Wall measures 60ft wide by 20ft tall and is made of just two moveable components. It is supported only on the sides to allow a floor with built-in trampolines to slide in and out like an enormous drawer.
  • The larger of the two skins covering the world of OVO measures 75ft wide by 50ft tall.
  • Three long poles weighing 80lb evoke dandelion stalks. Their spines allow artists to climb them like ladders.
  • The waterfall uses dry ice to recreate water and the morning dew.
  • The egg, which is inflatable, measures 28ft wide by 22ft tall.


“All insects are beautiful and perfect; it is what they evoke for each of us that changes our perception of them.”
                    — Liz Vandal, costume designer

Complicity with the world of insects
Liz Vandal, the costume designer for OVO has a special affinity for the world of the insects. “I’ve always had passion for them,” she says.” When I was just a kid I put rocks down around the yard near the fruit trees and I lifted them regularly to watch the insects who had taken up residence underneath them. I petted caterpillars and let butterflies into the house. So when I learned that OVO was inspired by insects, I immediately knew that I was in a perfect position to pay tribute to this majestic world with my costumes.”

Liz has a signature style inspired by futuristic superheroes and by suits of armour from all eras. These two sources inform her designs for the OVO costumes. Flattering lines and an elongated, corseted look are a nod to the world of super heroes while the segmented shells on many of the garments alternate between hard and soft, much like the armour and the bodies of knights in the Renaissance.

Evocation rather than imitation
Liz’s first challenge was to imagine a way to evoke insects without copying their actual anatomy. “The solution was to connect with the feeling of being face to face with a spider, a cockroach or a butterfly,” she explains. “Then I made detailed drawings of designs that interpreted their morphology. For example, the dragonfly’s wings are evoked by pants made of veined lace, and the mosquito’s stinger by a ‘Mohawk’ of fine red stems. The idea of the shell also became a metaphor, since the word ‘insect’ refers to ‘sections.’ This revelation consolidated my approach. ”

Liz drew on the wealth of experience and know-how of Cirque’s costume shop to put it all together. “Together we developed techniques of pleating fabrics to provide three-dimensional muscle, volumes and shells,” she says. “The result is a sort of organic origami. The most obvious example of that is the crickets’ costumes. The team also explored the textures of wings and shells using the sublimation technique to poeticize them and give them an evocative texture.”

In a play of colours and patterns, Liz implemented variations on a theme by incorporating thin lines on the ants and crickets, and pleated abstract transparent outfits for the dragonflies. She also used materials to suggest insects’ shells, and lacy fabrics for the wings and soft sections of their bodies. To enable certain characters such as the mosquito to move, she placed sections of shell within other sections, which open and close to reveal the soft body inside.

Crickets – symbols of the colony
Ten crickets are the key insects in the show. At times, they have detachable legs that break away from their bodies, which gives the impression that there is an insect invasion going on. “I have a particular soft spot for these characters,” she says, “because their costumes are so sexy, graphic and vibrant.”

The Foreigner is a character who lands in the middle of OVO. He is a fly in vintage suit who only reveals his true nature when he falls for the ladybug. After his transformation, he wears a costume of bristling spines. His lanky, angular form contrasts with the roundness of the ladybug.

Sources of inspiration
Liz Vandal took her inspiration from many sources, including certain fashion designers such as Pierre Cardin, who focused on graphic lines and geometric shapes. She was also inspired by the slashed sleeves of Renaissance garments.

Liz and her team in the costume shop have exploited the permanent pleating technique developed by Japanese designer Issey Miyake, which gives a certain rigidity to material and creates an organic effect. “We pushed this technique even further, she says, “by printing on coloured materials, sublimation and eroding the fabric not only to stiffen it, but also to give it a metallic sheen.”

Some highlights

  • Most characters have two versions of their costumes: the first, more lightweight and functional, for their acrobatic performance, and the second, more richly detailed and heavier, for their life in the community.
  • The initial cricket costumes required 75 hours of work each because of their complexity and the need to give them rigidity while maintaining the flexibility and expandability of the material.
  • Microscope photography of insects reveals that the materials used in the costumes are remarkably similar in structure to the bodies of insects.

{ SOURCE: Cirque du Soleil Press Room }