Cirque du Soleil is returning to Kamloops next week with its high-energy acrobatic production.
Described as a “colourful intrusion into a new day in the life of insects,” Ovo showcases an array of acrobatic feats, from crickets bouncing off a trampoline wall to a hypnotic spider contorting inside her web.
Kamloops This Week sat down with one of those crickets to learn more about a bug’s life.
Kilian Mongey’s path to performing as a high-level athlete in Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo has closely mimicked the very movements of the cricket character he portrays.
From very early on, Mongey leaped from one career opportunity to another — at each interval moving closer to the Cirque stage he now commands. Mongey said his mother enrolled him in gymnastics at the age of three in an effort to direct his hyperactive energy.
After a move from California to Paris, France, Mongey found he wasn’t getting as much class time in gymnastics as he had been in the U.S.
His coach suggested Mongey specialize in tumbling so he combined gymnastics and tumbling for five years.
“I was doing good on both, but I was a little better in tumbling,” he said.
Mongey recalls his mother taking him to see Alegria, his first Cirque du Soleil show.
As an 11-year-old, he watched wide-eyed, seeing tumblers like himself doing things he had never seen before.
It was an “ah-ha” moment for Mongey.
“When I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, this is what I want to do,’” he said. “I was a young tumbler and I saw the best in the world.”
His recruitment at age 14 to train with France’s National Institute of Sport developed his training further and enrolling in acting and dancing classes continued to expand his skills.
As Mongey improved, he sent performance videos of himself to Cirque casting each month, receiving positive feedback until his level was high enough to receive the call.
“It paid off, all that hard work since I was three years old. It was a long road, but I rode it. It’s a pretty awesome life,” Mongey said.
Mongey has been touring with Cirque du Soleil for six years, minus a one-year break.
Early on in the pandemic, Cirque du Soleil began plans to re-open, a welcome announcement for artists whose practice regimes had been abruptly halted.
“When we stopped performing in front of an audience — feeling the energy every night of the audience — it was pretty hard at the beginning,” Mongey said.
It was also difficult for artists to find a place to train, with facilities being closed. The past year has seen gyms opening up, allowing performers to get back to their regular routines.
“We’re all so grateful to be able to be on stage [again],” Mongey said, adding that hearing the audience’s reactions during performances is special for himself and fellow athletes.
“We can see people that are crying from joy because the story touched them, their feelings. I guess that’s our job, trying to make people think of nothing else but our show — entering our world,” Mongey said.
Ovo, meaning “egg” in Portuguese, is what Deborah Colker, (first female creator and director at Cirque du Soleil) took her inspiration from — the world of insects.
Backing the show is a percussion-heavy score by Berna Ceppas, who was inspired by the music of Brazil. There are 100 people from 25 different nationalities touring with Ovo, including 52 artists — all of them bugs.
“We’re doing it with a lot more gratitude,” said Cirque du Soleil Ovo senior publicist Janie Mallet. “There’s a renewed sense of gratitude of what we do.”
Mallet said Ovo is a show that is accessible for everybody. The story is woven by three clowns, beginning with arrival of the blue fly (voyager) entering a new colony of insects with a big egg on its back. The interactions bring about several underlying themes — how we react to change, diversity and inclusion.
“Our show is super cute to watch,” Mongey said. “It’s a love story.”
“You come to the show and you take away what resonates with you,” Mallet added.
Tickets can be found online at cirquedusoleil.com/ovo for six performances from June 23 to June 26 at Sandman Centre in downtown Kamloops.