Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world - a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.
From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.
The word Varekai means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.
Eiko Ishioka has had a hand in several artistic disciplines, including designing costumes for the cinema, theatre and opera. However, the circus arts were uncharted territory for her. For Varekai, she set herself the double challenge of designing resolutely original costumes and giving new shapes to the traditional Lycra bodysuit.
Safety, comfort and freedom of movement are essential factors in the design of acrobatic costumes. Never losing sight of these objectives, Eiko Ishioka dreamt up exuberant costumes that make the already spectacular acrobatic feats look even more audacious. The vibrant, flamboyant colours and unusual shapes of Eiko Ishioka’s costumes accentuate the artists’ movements, enhancing their beauty and grace.
Costumes at Varekai – Facts
- There are over 130 costumes in the Varekai wardrobe.
- The design of Varekai’s costumes involved finding technical solutions to ensure comfort and safety. The highly skilled costume makers fashioned the most original creations— after no less than 33,000 hours of hard work!
- Moleskin (Lycra) continues to be one of the most popular fabrics, on account of its flexible, elastic and easy care properties. Some special materials were also used, such as flexible titanium rods, sponge nylon, and different types of fire-resistant materials.
- The show has over 600 costumes, shoes, wigs, hats and accessories.
- It takes a total of 250 hours a week to keep the costumes impeccable on tour.
- A team of 6 people clean, repair, iron, repaint the shoes, retouch the hats and so on.
- Self-applied, the artist’s make-up is so extensive it can take between 45 minutes to an hour and a half to apply.
Costumes at Cirque du Soleil – Facts:
- All costumes are custom-made and the majority are produced at the Costume workshop in the International Headquarters in Montreal, Canada.
- The only facility of its kind in North America, it has almost 400 full-time employees, including specialists in fields as varied as shoemaking, textile design, lace-making, wigmaking, patternmaking, costumes making and millinery.
- Each year, the Costume workshop produces more than 25,000 pieces. Each year, the Costume workshop artisans use close to 130 kilometres of fabrics from around the world. 80% of all fabrics are treated and dyed in-house by the artisans of the textile design team.
- Shoes are hand- and custom-made for all artists by the artisans of the Shoe workshop. The leather pieces are dyed, trimmed and assembled on location. Brand new sports or dance shoes are sometimes altered to meet the specific of a costume. On average, nearly 3,000 pairs of shoes are produced by the workshop every year.
- Hats can be seen in every Cirque du Soleil show and are a key part of the costumes. Like the costumes, they are custom-designed and made in the workshop. To do this, the milliners mould and build the hats on plaster models of the artists’ heads. When artists arrive at Cirque du Soleil, they must have a mould made of their head.