This morning we had the opportunity to interview Mark Ward of Cirque du Soleil’s, Quidam coming to Austin’s Cedar Park Center starting February 29th. We got a little bit of info on the show’s plot, what it’s like for the performers on a day to day basis, and a few tips for those looking to make the arts a career.
Photo : Matt Beard
Costumes : Dominique Lemieux ©2011 Cirque du Soleil.
Quidam is the story of a young girl named Zoe who has a hard time dragging her parent’s attention away from their newspaper and radio fascinations to spend time with her. In fact, “quidam” itself means passerby in Latin and suggests that the only way humans know one another is by intentional introductions. When she starts to feel a bit hopeless about her social state, she is suddenly greeted by a guest at the door who, for whatever reason, just happens to have no head. The visitor drops his hat at the door, probably because he had no head to put it on would be our guess, and the girl chases after him to return the accessory to no avail. Now in possession of a new hat, Zoe naturally tries it on.
Instead of merely bringing out the color of her eyes, the hat transports her into a world of imaginary characters including our interviewee’s character, John. John acts as a guide of sorts to the girl who landed in far away territory and tries to win her approval and affections.
Photo : Matt Beard
Costumes : Dominique Lemieux ©2011 Cirque du Soleil
Ward was a font of information when it came to Cirque info. He should, he’s been with the company for 19 years! In those 19 years, he has performed in 6,700 consecutive shows. He hails from Denton, TX originally, and has a background in competitive gymnastics, ballet, and musical theater as well as a history dancing in New York and for Ballet Chicago. He started with Cirque in 1993 after they had a need for a dancer with acrobatic experience and the restis history.
In order to stay in shape for the seemingly superhuman stunts the performers do in the shows, most of the artists workout or condition three times a week either at the venue in which the show takes place or at gyms and studios around the city the tour is currently in. There’s also rehearsals that occur consistently.
“Cirque du Soleil shows are great because of their attention to detail,” Ward said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Mark also went on to say that despite performing in thousands of shows over the years, there is still the occasional time where butterflies come in to play or where last minute improvisations have to happen during the show without the audience noticing.
“It is work but it’s work you should love,” Ward said. “There are times things happen to your routine that you have to make adjustments to. The trick is to handle them with professionalism so that it’s seamless. The audience should never be able to tell.”
He closed our chat with a bit of advice for those who are looking to pursue a life or a career in the arts. With a plethora of experience in various facets of performing arts, he said the key to making a career of it was going to sound cliche but that it was simply just to follow your dreams.
“If you find a director or a show that says no to you, that doesn’t mean that the next person won’t say yes,” Ward said. “Stay with it and keep trying for it.”
You can see Quidam at Cedar Park center here in Austin for Ward’s first return back to his home state of Texas since he left to be with the company in ’93! Tickets are available here and just for being a Do512 user, you can save $10 just for using the promo code Do512.