Q&A: Cirque du Soleil performer Amanda Orozco
Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 17:09
Cirque du Soleil started as a traveling act of 20 street performers in the early ‘80s and grew to be an international company with more than 1,300 performers. There are permanent acts in various cities (such as Orlando's own, La Nouba), but Cirque du Soleil has continued with its original traveling acts.
Dralion is one such traveling show and has come to Orlando. There will be only eight performances from Sept. 21-25 at the UCF Arena, and student rates range from $31.50 to $67.50. Tickets can be purchased at www.cirquedusoleil.com/dralion.
The Central Florida Future sat down with Amanda Orozco, one of the performers, to find out what life is like working for Cirque du Soleil.
Central Florida Future: What is your job with Cirque du Soleil?
Amanda Orozco: I perform; I'm an aerialist in the show. The show is based around the four elements: wind, water, earth and fire. They all take on a human personification. I play the goddess of the air, or "Azala" as her character's name is. I perform the aerial pas de deux, which is an act on aerial tissue or silk, a curtain like silk material. It's a duet with my partner. We're basically the love story of the show; we perform the love story between the two of us.
CFF: How did you get involved with Cirque du Soleil?
Orozco: I saw La Nouba when I was 12. My mom took me for my birthday and I fell in love with the show, you know. I came out of there right away saying, 'This is what I want to do with my life.' She supported me; she said, ‘Follow your dreams. Do what you want to do.' But I don't think she really expected me to go that route and I totally did. I ran away and joined the circus. From there I, from high school, I graduated from Ocoee High School, I moved to Montreal to do the national circus school, which is essentially like a circus college, I guess you could say, for an intensive three-and-a-half year program. And right as I finished that, Cirque called me and asked me if I'd be interested in partaking in Dralion, and I for sure said, ‘Of course!' And that's how I got started here.
CFF: How did it feel to have the place you dreamed of working for call you and ask for you to work for them?
Orozco: It was totally surreal. I mean, it's everything you dream for. It's the scenario you play out in your head, but when it actually takes place you kind of just want to pinch yourself. I think the worst part is hanging up the phone and you're like, ‘Did that just happen?' It's something that you've thought about, but when it does take place it feels like a dream. And it still feels like a dream. It is the picture-perfect job for me to fly above audiences on a daily basis, to share the passion of Cirque du Soleil every night.
CFF: How high up is the aerial tissue?
Orozco: Our grid is located at about 40 feet. And then the stage, and we use every inch of space from the floor level up to the grid, so somewhere in between 40 feet.
CFF: Have you ever been injured while doing a performance or in practice?
Orozco: [laughs] For sure. Injuries happen when you're training, when you're doing things, but, um, Cirque takes a really proactive approach as far as that goes. We have two physios that travel on tour with us full time, you know, that take care of anything we even start to feel we can go see them, and they'll be very proactive about it. Beyond that, we have massages once a week, all kinds of things they do to really keep us at our tip-top shape. The time and energy and money they invest in us is incredibly valuable as a performer because obviously we need to be in our top shape to be able to do what we do. And Cirque du Soleil is absolutely amazing with that. It's very tailored, um, custom to each person and how you're feeling that day, that week, you know. Really everything about Cirque is custom: the costumes, the makeup, the training. From A-to-Z, it really is a very custom experience.
CFF: So you wouldn't ever be doing someone else's part?
Orozco: [Shakes her head] Each role really is casted for a specific person and, like, I couldn't necessarily do a role that someone else in the show does and vice versa. Each person is picked specifically for what they do.
CFF: So, you've seen La Nouba. You're in Dralion. Have you seen any of the other of the Cirque du Soleil shows? Do you all get to see them all?