One of the worlds most renowned and loved circus companies, Cirque Du Soleil, are returning to Australia this November with their mesmerising show, KOOZA. Combining the traditions of acrobatics and clowning, it’s set to be a spectacle that you can’t miss. We caught up with Head of Wardrobe, Jason Brass to talk how his Cirque Du Soleil journey began, what his role is really like and his secret to staying on top of over 1,080 items.
How did your journey with Cirque du Soleil begin?
About seventeen years ago, I was doing opera and theatre in the US. A friend of mine ... had been working with Cirque for about a year and ... she called me and asked me if I would like to come and join the Cirque du Soleil family.
That sounds too easy. Was is really that simple?
I was a very fortunate one. I was kind of sought out. I looked at Cirque do Soleil years before and thought it was an amazing company that I would like to work for. But I never knew that I would have the opportunity to.
You've been with Cirque du Soleil for so long. From a costume perspective, do you have an all time favourite show?
Every single show is so unique and different. I don't believe I have any favourites. I really love KOOZA because it's so rich and beautiful. There is a lot of fine details and we're lucky on this show to work with some of the best fabrics the world has to offer.
How would you describe the costume aesthetic for KOOZA?
We have a wide variety. We have everything from Indian, military and painters influence. There is so many different avenues that the designer Marie Chantale Vaillancourt uses for inspirations.
Your role is Head of Wardrobe, but do people ever mistake you for the designer?
Absolutely! People do think that I design the show. Our costume designer, Marie Chantale Vaillancourt and makeup designer, Florance Cornet did an amazing job creating the world of KOOZA for you to watch and enjoy. All of our costumes are made in our studio in Montreal.
As Head of Wardrobe, what does your role entail?
That's a big one! (he laughs) My number one job is to be the eyes for the designer. I maintain her artistic vision. On the daily basis I could be doing anything from laundry, ironing, steaming, sewing, repair work, alterations and makeup - we do it all here.
I can barely keep on top of my own wardrobe, but you have to keep count of 1080 items! How do you do it?
First, you'll see 1080 items in the show and then we have over 3500 costume pieces that travel with us.
It's a lot of management to ensure that every artist has what they need for the show. It's about keeping an eye on everything - it's a lot!
What happens when something breaks or rips. Do you have a backup?
On somethings, we have back ups. But most things are made really durable. If we can fix something, we will do it very quickly to get the artist back out on stage. But if it's a huge rip because of the acrobatics then we will go for their backup.
What does it look like backstage?
Here at KOOZA it's actually very calm and peaceful. We have artists in-between ques sitting and playing dominos, reading a book or stretching and warming up for their next act.
Do you have a favourite costume from KOOZA?
One of my all time favourites is our Hire Wire act. It's a very regal look... they're all in white, but when you first see them they're wearing these gorgeous, long red, velvet, gold-trimmed coats. It has a lot of Spanish influence.
What's the dynamic like as a team? Are you guys a close family?
Absolutely! We have about 120 people travelling with us fulltime with the show. It's like a big family. A big dysfunctional family at times. (he laughs)
What does a normal day look for you?
Wardrobe is one of the first departments to come to site. We start anywhere between 9:30am - 10:30am in the morning. And we're one of the last off-site. We will finish somewhere between 12:30am - 1am in the morning.
Oh my! That's a long day.
We rotate through who stays and who can go out and explore. We try to keep it very light-hearted and enjoyable because we spend so many hours together on tour.
In your own words, why should our readers come and see the show.
Well, it brings us back to the basics and originality of circus arts. There aren’t huge technical elements like the other shows that overwhelms the artistic side - everything in the show is manually done.
When you come and see the show, the set is a giant teal fabric backdrop. And when it moves - it isn't done by a computer; it's done by our technicians. So it makes it look alive and breathing. Every night it's slightly different.
To be transported to a world of wonderment, be sure to book your tickets for KOOZA today!
Ticket for the Brisbane season of KOOZA are at www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza or by phone on toll free 1800 036 685.
Dates: 24 November 2016 to 8 January 2017 (55 performances)
Venue: Skygate Brisbane Airport (near DFO)
Ticketing: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza or by phone 1800 036 685.