Design class on WFCU centre stageDrama students in Esther Van Eek’s Costume Design class got a backstage look at Cirque du Soleil.

Design class runs away to join the circus

Students in drama professor Esther Van Eek’s class in Costume Design had the opportunity to get a behind-the-curtain look at Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever show on ice, Crystal, last week at Windsor’s WFCU Centre.

Traditional elements of theatre — storytelling, costumes, sets, and music — added to Cirque’s breathtaking acrobatics provided an inspiring background for a question-and-answer session with assistant tour director Lauren Smith, says Van Eek.

“Students learned about how the company creates a show, finds the performers, and hires all the supporting departments required by any large entertainment company,” she says. “They heard about the different needs that tours have compared to Cirque’s resident shows and tent shows, and what this means for the lifestyle and demands on show designers and technicians.”

Noting that only one-quarter of Cirque’s more than 4,000 employees are performers, student Charlotte Kiervin Starkey imagines there may be a place for her: “As someone who loves the backstage and the more organizational aspect of things, this is actually a really encouraging statistic to know there is potentially a place for me in such a cool company.”

Van Eek says she welcomes this opportunity to take the learning out of the classroom and into the real-life arena, where students can see first-hand the variety of career directions available to them.

“Not everyone who studies design wants to be a designer, but the theory, skills, and creative problem-solving mindset apply to so many more opportunities!”

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