On September 2nd Cirque du Soleil will be arriving in Austin with one of their latest shows, Kooza. Kooza is bringing back Cirque to their origins of acrobatics and clowning but on a much more grandiose scale. For the first time they will be rolling out a large scale set that is sure to impress. Cirque will be casting a circus tent over the top of Circuit of the Americas and converting the Formula One track into a true french circus.
This past week I had the privilege to hold a Q&A with one of the stars of Kooza, Joey Arrigo. Joey can be seen in the role of the Trickster who acts as a sort of ringmaster to bring the entire show together. Arrigo has decorated resume as a dancer and choreographer which includes but is not limited to being a top 20 finalist of “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.” Joey gave me insight into Kooza and divulged on what Kooza means to him as a performer. Nonetheless, I am highly anticipating the performance following this interview.
Q: What is your role in Kooza?
A: My role in the show is called The Trickster. In any traditional circus there is a rigmaster, somebody who carries the show and brings it all together. My character pulls in The Innocence, the other main character, into the magical world of Kooza. Throughout the show The Innocence changes in personality from a shy timid character and becomes a new stronger more confident character by the end of the show. So, The Trickster acts as almost an alter ego that helps The Innocence on his journey.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration for your character?
A: The fact that I was a dancer my whole life. I started dance at the age of three and trained my whole life. So, I brought my training to the character. It is a movement quality that brings the magic to the character. My acting experience before Cirque du Soleil was slim to none. It was a lot of working with The Innocent and he brought this character out of me through the communication we had. It was the connection we had in playing these characters together that we were able to tell the story the way it should be told.
Q: How has your experience with Cirque du Soleil differed from other types of dance and performance experiences that you have had?
A: First and foremost everywhere I’ve worked before I’ve be working with many other dancers and have been surrounded by dancers my whole life. I am the only dancer in this show. Everybody else is from the traditional circus world: acrosport, gymnastics, clowning. So, we have all come together with these different skills to make this show. I am the only one that came from my world of competitive dancing and ballet. It’s nice to get here and feel all of these different energies and learn from these people in different ways. It has differed simply because as a dancer you don’t get many opportunities to be a solo actor. Usually, dance jobs you get in New York City or Los Angeles you are back up for an artist or in the chorus of a broadway show. In Kooza I use each and every one of my skills. I use my ballet technique, I use my classical technique, I use my acrobatic technique, I use my Jazz technique. Everything I did to train my whole life I use in this show. It is cliche to say, but it is a dream come true to be able to have this role.
Q: What can the audience expect from Kooza?
A: A fun energetic family show. Kooza really is a show for everyone. Death defying acrobatics and I use that term, death defying. I see them everyday and I sometimes get used to it, but literally what they are doing is they are putting their life in their hands. You are going to see things that will take your breath away and make your heart jump out of your chest. But, at the same time you are watching a story and the journey of a character as he evolves and sees all these new things in the circus world and it is a really touching story. I remember the first time I saw the show, I am crying at the end of it, I am weeping. Because, the story of it really does get to you.
Q: What advice do you have for young artists?
A: To always have the answer be “yes.” Never close yourself off to any opportunities. The moment you say no to something you close yourself off to not only that one opportunity but so many other things that could have come out of that. I remember when I first got here there were certain things that I had never done before and certain things I had to learn how to do and try. you try and all of the sudden you have new skills. So, my advice is to always say “yes.”
Kooza will be in Austin from September 2nd to October 8th for tickets visit cirquedusoleil.com