After the performance, we waited in our seats as instructed, and when the rest of the audience cleared out, the tour group followed the operations director backstage. Here, we're standing on ramp to the stage, with the giant fishbowl and audience seating behind us.
The props master told us about at the many, many pieces he keeps track of - juggling balls, decorative bows and spears, a silly pram.
Then we walked through the artists' preparation tent, where they warm up with a full set of circus equipment. Various costume pieces were hanging up on racks everywhere, like Cali's jointed tail!
Amazon boots, each in a carefully labeled pocket per performer.
Peacock dresses and ruffled tutus.
And more racks and racks filled with costumes. The wardrobe master, Larry, explained that every item of clothing that touches the skin is washed every day. They are very proud to be a no-dry-clean show. Even the leathers they use are specially constructed to be washable.
He was unfastening a clown's hairpieces while we chatted.
I think these were Valkyrie hairpieces.
Each of the headresses, even the very tall ones, are extremely lightweight. Cirque invests a lot in each acrobat, so the physio department has a lot of pull - they insist that the costume piece be light so there's less risk of injury and damage to the body. This contrasts to the heavy feathered headdresses that Las Vegas showgirls wear - those venues seem distinctly less considerate of their performers.
Cool tech: In preparation for costume and makeup design back at their Quebec headquarters, Cirque performs a 360 scan around an artist's face and body. The template above exactly fits someone's face, and then she can apply makeup in the cutouts, making the complicated decoration a fast application. Even more, if someone changes roles, the director can call back to headquarters and get a new template sent out for the makeup to match the role.
Makeup cabinet! They use MAC.
The wardrobe department is constantly repairing things. Check out all those colors of thread, and a whole rack of different elastics on the left side.
Larry was kind enough to hold the giant peacock tail and let me pose in front of it. The structure is made of fishing poles - light and flexible - and the whole thing only weighs a few pounds.
Swing Daddy stands next to the industrial dryer where they dry the two enormous tarps that protect the stage when the artist is diving into the fishbowl. Apparently, it takes 4 hours in the machine to dry each tarp. On two-show days, there's not enough time to dry the tarps in between, so there are 4 tarps in all.