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Good Question: How Does Cirque Du Soleil Travel?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You can’t miss the giant yellow big top near Mall of America in Bloomington and the small city that surrounds it.

Cirque Du Soleil is in town for nearly a month. So what do the performers do all day? How does a traveling circus travel?

“We are in the artistic tent, the tent right behind the stage,” said Marjon Van Grunsven, artistic director for OVO.

Wednesday night was the 769th performance of OVO. Many of the performers have been with the show since the beginning, but they’re not just dialing it in.

“Every day it’s training either here in the tent or on stage,” said Van Grunsven, who noted that the performers often start working in the early afternoon, hours before an 8 p.m. performance.

“You’re amazed by the crazy acrobatic skills, right? If they don’t train that daily, it’s like not putting oil in the car to keep rolling,” she said.

There are 160 people traveling with the show, but only 56 of them are performers. 

“I’ve got to be on the road,” said Steve Armstrong, wardrobe supervisor. Three full-time wardrobe people travel with the show, while another three are hired in each city.

He has to keep track of 2,500 different pieces of costume.

“Is circus life as crazy as some people think?” asked WCCO-TV Reporter Jason DeRusha.

“It can be! For me- no, I travel with my wife and kid,” said Armstrong.

Some of the male performers have spent their mornings in the Twin Cities hitting the golf courses. Others hang out in their apartments, rented for the three weeks the show runs.

“In this city there’s a lot of work to do,” said Karl Lecuyer, a trampoline performer playing a cricket in the show. “We’re running a lot, doing a lot of flips, trying to amaze everyone.”

There is a trampoline in the artistic tent to practice on as well as weights and a gym for the performers to stay in shape.

“We don’t want to lose the muscle we have to do a good show,” he said.

On Wednesday, Lecuyer spent an hour on stage training to back up the main character.

The show travels with 61 trucks of equipment, office space, bathrooms and equipment to build its own cafeteria. Wednesday night’s dinner buffet featured filet mignon, barbeque ribs, penne pasta with artichokes and onion rings. They have something for everyone and serve 300 meals a day.

“We have cooks that travel with us, it’s a team of four cooks,” said Lecuyer.

The cooks are from all around the world, just like the performers. The crew and performers represent 24 different nationalities.

There’s also an on-site school for a couple performers (who are 15 or 16-years-old) and the children of other performers and crew members. There are some married couples working on the show, according to Van Grunsven.

“Kids if you want to come to Cirque, you still have to come to school,” she said with a laugh.

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