Arnaud spends hours transforming into the Green Lizard.
During the past month, Arnaud Bertrand’s gig as the Green Lizard in Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère has meant whipping through two shows a night, five days a week. Through the grueling schedule, he has more to worry about than just pointing his toes and keeping on cue.
For each performance, Arnaud (along with the entire Mystère cast) has to perfectly apply elaborate makeup to complete his transformation into a surreal creature. The preparation begins hours before each show and is nearly as complex as the Green Lizard’s modern-based choreography.
Cirque du Soleil’s makeup designer, Nathalie Gagne, designed the colorful look for the Green Lizard, as well as the faces for all of Cirque’s shows since 1995. During Arnaud’s initial Cirque training in 2003 in Montreál, he knew a complex process lay ahead when Gagne handed him a 53-page booklet detailing Cirque’s makeup techniques. Makeup assistants are on hand backstage to help new performers, but the majority of the cast is responsible for applying their makeup alone.
Arnaud makes sure he eats before applying his makeup, which includes a blended base of green, blue and white creams with penciled red details around the mouth and eyes. “The process was very difficult for me,” he explains. “At first, it took two hours to apply my makeup. Now, the whole process takes me an hour.”
Arnaud typically arrives at the theater two hours before curtain. After makeup, he spends the rest of the time warming up and getting into costume. With just over a year in Mystère under his belt, Arnaud has his pre-performance ritual down to an art, which lets him concentrate on delivering a razor-sharp performance for hundreds of audience members each night. --Lisa Arnett
Taking the Stage
Lindsay settles into the season at Radio City.
On November 24, 2004, the Radio City Rockettes in Lindsay Howe’s cast traded their rigorous rehearsal schedule for an equally demanding performance schedule, with an average of three 90-minute shows danced a day. Even though this is her second year dancing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Lindsay was a little jittery. “I’m just glad to get over those first nerves,” she says. “Opening night was so surreal.”
The intense rehearsal period before opening night served as a major stamina boost that helped get her body in gear. “We rehearsed seven hours a day, six days a week,” says Lindsay. A typical day began with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up led by the director, John Dietrich. “We learned the entire show in four days or so, and then we worked on cleaning it,” Lindsay says.
All of the pieces are mapped out in great detail and stored in master binders for dance captains and assistant dance captains to reference as needed. Each dancer is assigned a letter based on height for each piece. If a dancer forgets where she’s supposed to go in a section, a captain can look up her letter. “I am always in the L, M, N, O range, but I have a different letter for each [piece],” says Lindsay. “They want to make sure that our heights match sitting and standing, so in the numbers where we sit, like ‘Reindeer,’ I move up in the line because my torso is longer.”
With such a grueling schedule, it’s tough to stay energized. “I drink a lot of Red Bull,” she says. “Different people have different ways of doing it. In our dressing room, we turn on Britney Spears to get our energy level up before the third show.” (The 40 dancers in the cast are divided across five rooms.)
Lindsay is also happy to report that her knees, which were bothering her before rehearsals began, are doing well so far thanks to a biweekly Pilates regimen that includes private sessions on a Reformer. “My goal is to stay healthy, fit and uninjured,” she says.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.