If you've seen other acts by Cirque du Soleil, you'd have an idea about the type of performances to expect — but you probably haven't heard of these 10 unexpected facts about Kooza.
1. Kooza is Cirque du Soleil's 8th highest grossing show of all time
Kooza is one of Cirque's more popular shows, thanks to the combination of death-defying acrobatic performances and humorous clown acts, it has become a crowd favourite. It's estimated that the circus makes $33 million a year from just Kooza.
2. They design and produce their own costumes
Considering the sheer number of performers and acts, it might seem practical for Cirque du Soleil to outsource their wardrobe. However, to ensure that each costume is tailor-made for the artist playing the role, they have an in-house costume workshop in Montreal, Canada, which handcrafts all the costumes based on 3D moulds of the performers.
3. Performers do their own makeup
This comes as a surprise, as most shows employ artists who specialise in theatrical makeup. However, Cirque du Soleil’s performers are all well-equipped to apply makeup on their own to speed up the process before every show. Makeup designer, Florence Cornet, first came up with the extravagant makeup designs seen in Kooza, and later taught each performer to recreate the looks. The performers initially took over two hours to perfect the details, but now spend an impressive 30 minutes after numerous practice.
4. Costumes are incredibly intricate
Costume designer Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt, when explaining the thought-processes behind the elaborate costumes, shared that many designs drew inspiration from quick-change artists and magicians. For example, the Charivari performers could change the colour of their costumes with controls strategically placed at their fingertips. The Rat Cape from Kooza was also made up of 150 fake-fur rats with crystal eyes that reflects the stage light to give the illusion of rats running down the performer’s body. Some of the rats were even fitted with tiny wheels to make them seem more realistic.
5. The Kooza stage is the highest stage ever designed by Cirque du Soleil
The Kooza stage is about nine feet taller than the average 30-feet sets built for other Cirque du Soleil's shows. The extra space accounts for the Jack-in-the-Box act where hydraulics are propelled almost six to seven feet in the air, allowing the acts to occur smoothly without anticipating any unexpected technical issues.
6. They have a personal caterer
With a cast as diverse as Kooza's, it would make sense that the show employs a caterer that travels with them. And instead of following a strict dietary plan and workout regime, most Cirque du Soleil artists either eat heavily or take several light meals in a day. They don't have to be overly conscious of their calorie count, thanks to their rigourous performances.
7. Gym? Don't sweat it
Because every show is a workout for them, most performers spend minimal hours working out. To ensure they don’t injure themselves while training, the artists do loose practices to maintain their physique. Most Cirque du Soleil performers were professional gymnasts or athletes, so keeping fit and eating healthy has always been part of their lifestyle.
8. Sleep is a must
Rather than rising at dawn every day to start on their workout regime, Cirque du Soleil performers often wake up just in time for lunch. Getting enough sleep helps to heal their bodies from the stretching and training, and with shows sometimes ending at midnight, ensuring that they get ample rest means waking up a lot later than other people.
9. Kooza actually means 'Box'
Kooza is derived from the Sanskrit word “koza,” which translates to “box,” “chest” or “treasure”. It was chosen because “circus in a box” is one of the major underlying concepts of the production. The concept is elaborated in the performance as a physical box makes an appearance in some of the acts.
10. They have the only acrobat who can land a double flip on one stilt
In Kooza's final act, acrobat Laura Kmetko does a somersault in the air while landing gracefully, all while being on a single stilt. The spectacle in itself is incredible, but to add to that, Kmetko is the only acrobat in the world who can perform that trick.
(Related: Step Into The Zany World Of Kooza)