Cirque du Soleil is coming to Austin with its latest arena show, Varekai, from February 26th until March 2nd. Austin Music + Entertainment had a chance to speak with with Gabriella Argento, one of the highly-talented clown performers in the show. This is what she says the Cirque du Soleil experience is like.
Gabriella and another Cirque clown in action onstage
Austin Music + Entertainment: When did your interest in the performing arts begin? Did you ever see yourself reaching the level you’re at now?
Gabriella Argento: I always wanted to be a stage actress, since I was a little girl. I didn’t have any excuse or direct influence; nobody in my family was an artist.
Until today I cannot explain where this all came from, but I never changed my mind about it. As soon as I finished high school I went to drama school, where I studied traditional theatre. Towards the end of the course, I got in touch with the universe of theatrical masks and fell in love with the clown mask and all the philosophy underneath it.
AME: Describe how you became involved with the current Cirque show.
GA: Wow…Let’s make a long story short. As a clown, most of the events in my life are somewhere in between tragic and funny. In 1997, I went to a Cirque du Soleil audition in Brazil. I was very young and I didn’t want to go. My clown coach just dropped me there and made me do it.
After a long, tiring and very serious process, I was approved to what Cirque calls the potential casting, which is a data bank where they can search for specific profiles when they need somebody for a new show.
So, there I stayed for seven years, until they needed somebody just like me for the show KÀ, in Las Vegas, in which I worked from 2004 to 2007.
Then I came back to Brazil, continued my career and in 2012 Cirque offered me the clown position at Varekai.
AME: You are on the road constantly during this show, with people of many different nationalities. What is that like?
GA: This is the best part of the job. Especially for me , as an actress, who is constantly researching the human soul, this is a priceless experience. We are so different, and yet, at the end of the day, we are all the same.
One can just grow working in an environment where you have to understand the whole picture about your stage partner in order to understand him as a performer. It is pure beauty.
AME: How do you find balance between your work and personal life?
GA: Well…I don’t, because what I love the most about life is what I do for a living, so work is not work but pleasure all the time. I feel truly lucky to have found a way to do what I love, with love. When I am not on stage, normally I am watching movies that inspire me, reading to get more technique, writing…but everything is intertwined, and that’s the only way I know how to live my life.
AME: Your performances are practically death-defying, and many people would be terrified to attempt what you do in every show. How were you able to get past that nervousness?
GA: The Circus is a form of art that flirts with death, no matter what. In my opinion, we don’t have to get past the nervousness. We have to acknowledge it exists, and be aware and alert and prepared at all times. You defy death being the most alive as possible, in the moment.
AME: If you could describe this particular show in your own words, what would you say?
GA: The roots of traditional circus kept alive into an incredible oneiric world.
AME: What is your family and/or friends’ reaction to your position in the show?
GA: They miss me performing in Brazil!
AME: What is you personal favorite part of the show, excluding your portion?
GA: End of first act, end of second act. That’s all I can say without spoiling the experience of watching the show.
AME: What is the major aspect of your life that has changed since joining the tour?
GA: I don’t have animals around. I grew up in a house full of all sorts of animals and I am a cat lover. It is extremely hard for me to live without the fulfilling silence of the felines.
AME: In your opinion, what sets Cirque apart from other shows in the same general genre?
GA: The company’s ability to take care of the details. From the catering department, to wardrobe, rigging, lighting, sound…the level of the professionals that are hired is extremely high. Despite all the first class technical gears, amazing costumes…at the end of the day, what makes the difference are the human beings that get together to build a two hour dream to share with other human beings. People make the difference.
Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai will be performed at the Cedar Park Center. Get tickets here.