Circus News

Costumes at Cirque du Soleil–The Challenging Work of Preserving Circus Heritage

Cirque du Soleil was founded over 35 years ago, and in that time has produced thousands of costumes for 52 stage shows. Its costuming department fabricates over 15,000 costume pieces per year at the international headquarters in Montreal, Canada that it then sends out to its touring and resident shows, as well as special events. Since the company’s founding in 1984, their shows have explored a variety of themes which has translated to a diverse history of costumes.

The materials used for creating costuming has evolved to include 3D printed materials, LED lights, and even motors. Many contemporary circus artists have struggled with defining their work in a way that is not confined to and characterized by traditional circus, so preserving heritage is a topic that often seems to fall by the wayside, whether intentional or not. The evolution is an important part of the industry’s history though, and costuming is a critical component. It communicates when there may be no spoken words in a show. Vibrant colors spark emotions, just as drab, muted ones do. The costume of an imagined creature is the first indication that we are about to be transported to a different world. For shows that bring fantastical creatures and characters to life, the costuming is often on the forefront of developing new or unconventional materials in the world of garment making. There is a history here that the industry should be proud of....

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Katalin Lightner

Katalin Lightner is the founder and creative director of Dream Rippled Productions, a company specializing in creating one of a kind experiences, and developing technology for live performance. She has performed in theatrical circus shows, festivals, and for special events across the United States, and has appeared in television and film. Her passion is in creating performances that tell stories using physical storytelling, designing unique circus equipment, and through unconventional uses of technology. In 2015, her project “Lit” won “When Technology Meets Creativity,” a National contest put on by Cirque du Soleil that examined the intersections of technology and creativity. “Lit” explored projection mapping onto a fabric slackwire/slackfabric with wire walking. Katalin is also one of the co-founders of Soda City Cirque, a performance art company based out of Columbia, SC that blends circus, dance, and theater in full-length theatrical circus shows.