Swing Fever: Fabrice Lemire Talks Quartz/Crystal

June 7, 2017 Richasi

Cirque du Soleil is “dancing in new territory,” according to its artistic director and full-time Palm Springs resident Fabrice Lemire. “Quartz,” the upcoming show that Lemire is about to launch, will be performed entirely on ice.

As (touring) artistic director, Lemire has overseen the development of Cirque’s last three shows, “Quidam,” “Varekai” and “Toruk,” based on James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar.” He recently began the three- to four-month development process of “Quartz.”

Lemire sat down for an interview on a warm windy spring evening at his home in Escena. It’s the quiet before the storm. The following day, he will begin a brief vacation and then embark on the challenging, creative journey to bring a brand new Cirque du Soleil show to life.

Q. Cirque du Soleil has such a distinct and successful brand. When you start a new show is there some sort of Cirque bible that you have to follow?

It’s really a clean slate when we start a new show. The company hires a group of “conceptors” and designers who have carte blanche to do whatever they want with some parameters like time frame. We have 14 to 15 weeks to deliver a job before its premiere in Montreal. Sometimes, in the case of “Toruk,” I would say we deliver a premature child (laughs). It may not be the final project, but we still deliver it, then continue to make changes as the show evolves. For an entire year after the premiere of “Toruk,” we made drastic changes, for the better. The bible comes later while we are in operation mode. We keep data on something called the “fil rouge,” the red thread, an Internet platform where we can upload everything pertinent to the creative process. So we create a bible that is updated throughout the entire lifespan of a show, sometimes up to 20 years. We are always looking at what we call the “refreshing” of it — to keep it alive, keep it fresh, and also to keep our performers and our team motivated.

Q. Let’s talk more about “Quartz.” Where are the conceptors in the process today, and when will the performers get involved?

The conceptors are already in Montreal having a roundtable discussion. This is a very important moment where you can discuss all the depth of an idea and see whether we have the tech support. In June, we bring the artists to the creative process. So right now we are recruiting them — stage managers, performance medicine therapists, acrobatic coaches and so on. We are also in the process of hiring performers. We have not tackled the ice world before which is a challenge for us all. By hiring ice skaters we are completely dancing in new territory.

Q. What can you tell us about “Quartz” besides the title and that it’s on ice?

At the heart of it, it’s about a young person who has fallen through the ice, and is facing the fear of that trauma. But it may go in any direction. As I said, the conceptors have carte blanche, and I will entirely support their vision.

Q. You have put up shows all over the world. What about backstage drama?

It’s not backstage drama, but a touring lifestyle. It’s leaving your loved ones and not being able to go home at night. If a performer has an argument on the telephone with his girlfriend, let’s say, and is falling apart, this may have an impact on the performance, so we’ll discuss the problem. If the next day I’m not satisfied with the outcome, I may not put this performer on stage, for his safety and the safety of the show. I don’t call this drama, it’s just a normal reality.

Q. And backstage romance?

There is very little. But talk to me later — I have never worked with ice skaters! For dancers and acrobats, most of them already have established relationships, or they don’t because they don’t want them. Remember the body is a tool for you to deliver a product, so you look at it differently. What the audience may see as esthetically pleasing to the eye is different to us as insiders. If you are hanging from one arm 25 feet off the floor, you need all that muscle and those strong hands and fingers, so you can hold the apparatus and not fall. When you live and are in physical contact with someone 24/7 the sexual tension is not there.

Q. It’s smelly; it’s sweaty…

If it is smelly, you address your partner and say, “Excuse me, honey, but you got to fix that.”

Q. Let’s go into the future. The show is developed, and you’ve had three or four weeks of previews. Now, the premiere …

When we deliver the premiere, it is still a seed that can germinate for a year or two. Literally, we have done things where I change an entire act in the afternoon, and it is in the show that night.

Q. Do you have any opening night rituals?

I don’t. I leave it to destiny and to the performers and staff. I just listen to the reaction of the audience and am open to criticism.

Q. What about a cast party?

Performers tend to be known as party people, maybe because the work frame demands so much concentration, focus and discipline. So when they take a break from it, they go the mile to have fun, but I will hit them hard if they come in the next day under the influence or not in their full mind.

Q. Would you ever bring a show to Palm Springs or develop one here?

I would love to if there was an arena in the Coachella Valley and we could bring a show here. I chose to live here because it is so beautiful and inspiring. This valley has everything we need to create an artistic platform — you have a variation of culture and interest, you have people who have moved here from elsewhere, and people who have run away from big cities to come here. Those people have been exposed to the arts. I was thrilled last year because “Toruk” was in the region. In my community here at Escena, they made an announcement and about 35 people made a road trip, rented a bus to go to Ontario, and I loved it.

Q. It is said that performing arts attract a high percentage of LGBTQ performers. Do you think that’s true in Cirque as well?

I think this is a myth. However, what I do believe is that in the arts at large there is an acceptance if you are gay, so you are more visible than you might be elsewhere. Therefore, we know there are more gays there — they are more comfortable in their shoes because they can be.

Q. Although you’ve mentioned how much you love your position at Cirque du Soleil, would you ever entertain the idea of being a conceptor?

Absolutely. I have an idea about creating a stage work of “The Little Prince.” A smaller show, but it could have incredible spectacle. It’s in my back pocket. However, give me something else and I’ll jump on board.

{ SOURCE: The Desert Sun }

The post Swing Fever: Fabrice Lemire Talks Quartz/Crystal appeared first on Fascination! Newsletter.

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