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Cirque Du Soleil Artistic Director shares the show’s secrets ahead of Manchester performance

Experience the amazing show by Lydia Harper and Cirque Du Soleil: OVO at the AO Arena. Think bugs, acrobatics, plenty of colour and more.
Cirque Du Solei

Lydia Harper is an Artistic Director at Cirque Du Soleil and she is currently working on their show OVO; a spectacular show featuring a dazzling array of characters who just happen to be bugs.

In true Cirque form, there are high-level acrobatics, lots of colour, music and, of course – clowns.

We caught up with Lydia to find out more about the show and how she felt when she performed with this much-loved company for the very first time.

Cirque Du Solei

Were you a fan of Cirque Du Soleil before you joined? How did you discover them?

I was lucky enough to grow up in a very arty family and was part of a youth theatre (Playbox Theatre) in Warwick for the longest time. It was there that I first started circus and they introduced me to all sorts of performing arts companies – and Cirque du Soleil stuck in my brain and body.

I loved the way that Cirque du Soleil created a world filled with magic and used the circus as a storytelling method of madness. The whimsical beauty is something that I have always loved about them.

I first watched La Nouba on TV when I was 11, with Dale Winton (I think) doing behind-the-scenes snippets in between the advert breaks and was obsessed.

Everyone who works for Cirque du Soleil remembers the first time they saw a show live… and for me that was Varekai at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008.

I was beginning to think that I wanted to apply for circus school at around the same time and it was seeing that show live that confirmed it for me.

I never dreamed that I would one day perform as an artist – let alone become an Artistic Director for Cirque du Soleil!

Cirque Du Solei
The crazy crickets

How exhilarating was it to perform with them for the first time?

It is a moment in my life that I will never forget.

There was one scene in TORUK where the stage went empty and dark and I was the first person to appear, leading a group of artists behind me.

Stepping into the light in front of 10,000 people in Montreal for the world premiere of a show, (whilst wearing a Na’vi mohawk), and knowing that, from that moment, my entire life had changed was a feeling that is hard to recreate.

Circus is an intense way of life, and there are a lot of stressors associated with it – but then there are moments of pure exhilaration that make it all worth it.

Cirque Du Solei

Working on a show like Cirque Du Solei must be a massive undertaking. What are the biggest challenges?

OVO is a huge show! As Artistic Director, my role involves overseeing the artistic vision and quality of the show, whilst supporting and helping the Artists with everything and anything from choreographing new sequences to paternity leave paperwork.

I am supported by a fantastic team of Stage Managers, Physiotherapists and Coaches but there are 52 artists so there is never a dull day.

One of the biggest challenges for everyone is being away from friends and family for the majority of the year.

Combining that with over 25 different nationalities, 100 different personalities and changing city every week…you can imagine that sometimes it feels like my brain stops working.

My destress method is to have a bike on tour, so I can cycle around the city after shows and decompress.

How did OVO come to be?

The show was first created in 2009 and has been touring ever since, with a relaunch in 2022 featuring some new acts that we will be bringing to Manchester!

It was created by Decorah Colker who wanted to bring a Brazilian influence to a show that stars Bugs!!

OVO takes us inside a colony of all different kinds of insects and we go on a journey finding friendship, adaptation and inclusion. With vibrant handmade costumes and video projections covering the entire stage, it’s a colourful show that delights families around the world.

With the cost of living crisis in the UK, this offers audiences escapism when they need it. Why would you recommend they see the show?

OVO is true escapism.

There are no political undercurrents or themes to dissect – it is a show that is full of joy, colour, and fun.

Circus is a brilliant escape because it, by definition, is about exploring a world of possibility rather than reality and OVO is no exception. Humans (or bugs in this case) pushing themselves to their limits with high-level acrobatics, clowns navigating love at first sight and an insight into a day in the life of a bug, all to a soundtrack provided live by musicians!

The show invites you to step outside of the ordinary, look under a leaf and see what magic can be found.

Cirque Du Soleil: OVO is at the AO Arena from 27th – 31st March and tickets can be booked by clicking here

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