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OCTOBER 23, 2008
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Cirque du Soleil
‘Alegria’ performers talk to Expat Living
Last week Cirque du Soleil’s “Alegria” opened in Seoul at the Jamsil Sports Complex in Gangnam, adding one more thing to your to-do list. “Alegria” is Spanish for elation, exhilaration and jubilation — all definitely feelings spectators have when watching the show. “Alegria” is one of eight performances Cirque du Soleil is putting on around the world. In addition to its touring shows, the company has resident shows in various locations around the world, and it also has a seasonal winter show in Madison Square Garden, New York City. Cirque du Soleil launched “Alegria” in 1994 to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The show kicked off in Montreal, Canada and has been performed in cities all around the world since. With a cast of 55 acrobats, musicians, singers, clowns and characters more than 10 million people have seen “Alegria” since it started in 1994. When you think of Cirque du Soleil, you think of a group performance — but not usually of the individual performers. Two “Alegria” trampolinists, Lisa Skinner from Australia and Ken Futamura from Canada, sat down with Expat Living to discuss what it was like to perform in the show. Lisa Skinner, who does the power track (a high flying trampoline act) and is a nymph in the production, has been with Cirque du Soleil since 2006. This is her first visit to Seoul and she said she has been getting out as much as she can to see the city. Skinner is from Clear Mountain, Queensland, Australia. She is a gymnast who competed at the 1996, 2000 and 2004
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Regina Walton’s Expat Interviews
Olympic Games, where Cirque du Soleil first noticed her talent. They first approached her after seeing her performance at the 2000 Olympics. Skinner’s response? She told them she’d think about it, but said she “didn’t know too much about it at that time.” She added: “I’d started to pick up a bit more information and I’d seen one of the shows before because of my coach. Her sister was in Cirque du Soleil and had been performing for awhile. But then I ended up continuing with gymnastics.” Lisa took a break from gymnastics after the 2000 Olympics but started training again in 2002. “I actually bumped into a scout at the Athens (Olympics) and she asked me again ‘so what do you reckon?’ I was more interested at that time too and knew more about it and it seemed pretty good.” It was after the 2004 Olympics that she auditioned and joined Cirque du Soleil. How would Skinner describe Cirque du Soleil to someone who has never seen it? “When I saw my first (Cirque du Soleil) show, which was 1998, I saw ‘Quidam’ in Texas. I’d never seen anything like it before. I’d never been to a circus before, so this was my first one. I was just amazed by everything that they did. I could hardly blink. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of it. “Later on, when actually I got the opportunity to work here, it’s as good as you probably
Cirque du Soleil
Expat Living’s events of the week Volunteer
PLUR, a volunteer group made up of mostly expats, will be going to Hyang-ae Orphanage on Oct 25. About two hours from Seoul, volunteers will meet at Gangbyeon Station, Line No. 2, Exit No. 2 at 9:30 a.m. Volunteers will eat lunch together at the orphanage, play with the kids until 4 p.m., and arrive back in Seoul at 7 p.m. Bus cost is 7,700 each way. For more information, contact Danny Oh by e-mail at email@example.com or call 010289-2180.
think it’s going to be. It’s not too difficult. Most of the work the (performers) have done before in their sport. They’ve done their repetitions. They’ve done the training. They’ve got the aerial awareness already and here it’s just upkeep,” she said. “You’re doing the show every day, so there isn’t too much training. There (are) great people and there is not as much pressure. Obviously, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do your best, but you have fun. “I don’t feel like I work. I come to work and I play.” Kenneth Futamura, unlike Skinner, has been to Seoul before. The Cirque du Soleil performer was working in Japan and came to visit for four days about 10 years ago. “I’m really looking forward to seeing a little bit more.” Like Skinner, Futamura is also a trained gymnast. He competed in the Commonwealth Games in 1994. Also like Skinner, Futamura performs in the power track in “Alegria.” Futamura heard about Cirque du Soleil when he was “coaching at the gym and they had a posting concerning auditions in Montreal. I said ‘Why not take a chance?’ because a lot of the Canadian athletes and coaches were in Cirque du Soleil at that time. So I heard a little bit about the name but I didn’t know anything about their shows.” In 1997 he auditioned for Cirque du Soleil and was accepted. He has been with the company for almost 11 years. He was a rookie in Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba” production, based at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and he’s been with “Alegria” since August 2004.
Futamura described the difference between his performance on the power track in “Alegria” and his performance in “La Nouba.” “The two main differences are that La Nouba is a permanent show, so it stays fixed and it’s a bigger stage with more mechanical things. The act I was doing ... was a building with two trampolines on the side and cross of power track. It’s a building with two stories and windows that people can come out from. So people can jump from the top of the building to the trampoline. On the floor you have a power track.” Futamura describes Cirque du Soleil as “theatrical, everything is live. We have beautiful costumes and the acrobatic skills are very high.” When it comes to advice to young people interested in joining Cirque du Soleil, he says, “It depends on what you want to do.” As a gymnast, Ken’s first suggestion was gymnastics. “Gymnastics helps a lot because it works all the parts of your body. Any sport is good, like dancing.” He then went on to say that there were other performers in Cirque du Soleil, like musicians. “The main thing is if they love what they do, that’s a good start.” Cirque du Soleil’s “Alegria” is a touring show and ends its stay in Korea on Nov. 19. Tickets are priced from 50,000 to 110,000 won. More information can be found at this website cirquedusoleil.co.kr Regina can be reached through her blog at expatjane. blogspot.com — Ed.
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Concerts for Seoulites this weekend
Seoul’s live music scene has venues for all walks of life. You can dance the night away in clubs; you can catch new, young bands, as well as much more established ones; and if you look hard enough, you can find quieter acoustic gigs. Nothing beats heading to Hongdae for drinks and some live music after a busy week of work. If you’re looking to listen to something a bit different and original, then this Friday, at Jane’s Groove, contemporary world musicians Easternox are taking the stage. Easternox are made up of five members playing a fusion of various Korean traditional instruments, a keyboard and drums. Lee Sok-jin is the mastermind of the band, composing every song. Their name comes from a fusion of the words Eastern and Equinox, which hints at what they might sound like.
Richard Doherty on Live Music
Playing Korean traditional instruments, they mix Eastern sounds with modern compositions, creating contemporary world music that is unlike anything you have ever heard before. The fine balance of traditional melodies and contemporary composition — mixing the old and new — still very much shows they are a band rooted in Korea. This show promises to be a lot of fun, and get there early as there is a guaranteed packed house. Jane’s Groove can be found by taking a left out of Sangsu Subway Station, Line No. 6 and walking down the hill toward Hongik University until you see a 7-Eleven. From there, look for the flashy Jane’s Groove sign across the street. The show kicks off around 8:30 p.m. and is
Eloquence Magazine is hosting their monthly party — The monthly Eloquence Wine and Dine night — at StaSera in Apgujeong on Oct. 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Join the staff of Eloquence for some wine and laughs. Price is 35,000 won advance and 40,000 won at the door. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting is currently open for the Daegu Friendship Club’s subway photo contest at Club That in Daegu. To vote on the best photos, taken mostly by expats, go to the third floor of Club That and pick up some ballots. Voting closes Oct. 30 and the grand prize winner will be announced at 10 p.m. on Oct. 31. For more information see the group “Daegu Subway Life — Photo Contest” on www.facebook.com To add your event to Expat Living’s events of the week e-mail email@example.com — Ed.
10,000 won at the door. Secondly, on Saturday evening in Club Spot, Brave Hearts Co. and Three Sevens Film present My Loud Brothers. Touring from Japan, bands Numb and Scum Banditz lead the evening with support from some fine Korean groups. Numb — hailing from Tokyo — are loud, heavy and straight-up hardcore that’ll leave your whole body shaking. Scum Banditz will definitely be one to watch with their highenergy punk and hardcore sounds — leaving you no time to get a drink. The support acts — while in a similar genre — offer quite a variety in sound. The Geeks, a favorite on the scene, continue to push forward with great music and will follow up this gig with a few shows in Tokyo. Next up is 13 Steps, from Cheongju. They pack over an album’s worth of loud and aggressive songs into a 20-minute set. Johnny Royal
SCHC will be mixing things up a bit with dueling vocalists — and will rock out so much on stage it’s hard to know where to look. Galaxy Express’s garage indie-rock sound is popular with expats, and rightly so, with their tight live sets. Finishing the line-up are Vlack Plot and Today X Spot, who unfortunately I’ve yet to catch live. The show kicks off at a slightly early 5 p.m., is 15,000 won at the door. To get to the venue from Sangsu Subway Station, Line No. 6, take a right out of exit No. 2 and head down the hill. Keep walking until you see the playground. After the playground, take the first left up the hill and the venue is easily spotted on the right hand side. Richard can be reached through his blog at dorty.reptaro.net — Ed.
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