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Words by Kaylee Dugan
Photos by Jeff Martin

Going to the circus makes me feel two ways. The first thing thought crosses my mind is always, “Why didn’t I join the circus?” and shortly after the second thought is, “My god it must be hard to work for the circus.” Cirque de Soleil is no different. They’ve brought their show OVO to Virginia’s EagleBank Arena and the preparation that goes into setting up their spectacular and hallucinatory events in insane.

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They’re reaching the end of their North American tour and after a short two week break they’ll travel through Europe for a little over two months. The group of 100 people (who are from 22 different countries) have been traveling on 19 trucks across the U.S., which includes their own catering truck. They also lug their own mini gym around as well as all of the costumes, make up, set pieces and more. While many of the set pieces are re-purposed from other Cirque shows, load in take between eight and 15 hours and there’s another three to four hours for load out.

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As aerialists (referred to as catchers and flyers) did a quick Russian cradle practice on the stage, other performers warmed up in the back. Some stretched quietly, others laughed and threw each other around the way only incredibly, fit, graceful and well practiced people can and some practiced jumping as high as humanly possible. Meanwhile, costume and prop people hunched over desks sewing, painting and crafting. Even though the team is at a different place almost every week, they navigated the serpentine halls like old pros. This is the part that makes me wish I joined the circus. The traveling, the performing, the easy going friendships between people who can barely speak each other language. That 15 hour load in? Not so much.

OVO is at EagleBank Arena from August 16 to 20 and at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore from August 23 to 27.

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