Cirque du Soleil's Stunt Woman in Chief .
From The Wall Street Journal
By ALEXANDRA ALTER
In a large industrial building on the outskirts of Montreal, 14 Russian trapeze artists and six aerialists gathered for rehearsal in a studio the size of an airplane hangar. They were in the final months of choreographing "Zarkana," Debra Brown's 11th creation for the circus company Cirque du Soleil. The show cost $50 million and opens in June at Radio City Music Hall.
"I can't wait to see this," Ms. Brown said as three young acrobats climbed into metal rings suspended from the 75-foot-high ceiling. Frantic drum and piano music blared. The rings spun rapidly, rising and plunging like yo-yos. The women flipped upside down and arched their backs, as agile as spider monkeys. They scissored their legs into full splits, pretzeled themselves into cross-legged positions and dangled by their arms, their bodies whirling like ceiling fan blades.
Ms. Brown specializes in creating bizarre, hair-raising stunts that seem physically impossible. In her 25 years with the company, she has helped transform the circus into an art form. She developed a routine with four contortionists who twist their bodies into a single, 16-limbed vehicle. For "O," she choreographed a wild water ballet with a giant tank of water serving as a stage, featuring 85 synchronized swimmers, high divers and acrobats. She discovered that a performer in the show "On Air" could bounce on a trampoline and play the electric guitar at the same time; within hours, they had a routine where he strums and does multiple back flips in a row (his record is 39).
"It was in the show the next day," said performer Dominic Dagenais, who declined to give his age because "I don't believe in time."
At 56, Ms. Brown shares her performers' energy. On a recent morning, she bounded around Cirque du Soleil's international headquarters, dressed in black yoga pants and a long black scarf that dragged on the floor. She rehearsed with Mr. Dagenais, bouncing and dancing on the trampoline and nearly tumbling into a giant pit of yellow foam cubes. Later, she coached performers on aerial rings, led a dance workshop for 14 Russian trapeze artists and worked on a floor routine with two acrobats. read more at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704758904576188722477737668.html