Kurios as Workshop

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One of the key traits in the evolution of steampunk and the steampunk community is to create. Each and every one of us creates some contribution to steampunk every time we participate, and every day when we simply acknowledge “I am a steampunk.”

Its common knowledge that steampunk made the leap from its roots in literature to being tangible when Jake von Slatt and Richard “Datamancer” Nagy began creating and sharing their visually stunning and elegant computers, monitors, and keyboards. The Maker philosophy grabbed people’s attention to create tangible objects and bring to life the worlds that we had previously only been reading about.

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People made their own outfits, accessories, and props. The artwork started coming along with designs we could embrace. And there was music filling the background.

But physical objects aren’t the only things we create. We also create moments and memories. We create experiences, and motivations. We create dreams and bring them into reality.

The same could be said for Cirque du Soleil’s steampunk themed show, Kurios. Physical items have been created for it as costumes, and props, the stage and the new equipment. That’s just the base for what comes next as the cast and crew create a thoroughly engaging experience, a steampunked fantasy land for us to share in the visions and dreams of the Seeker. We are entertained, we are amazed, and for a few hours, we live completely in a world that exists only for that one performance.

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In talking with Ryan Shinji Murray, a performer with the Acro Net team, and David Greatrex, who is head of automation and all things that move in the show, I asked them one last question for Steampunk Hands Around the World – what have you created in or with Kurios?

Ryan says the magic of a live show is creating a similar but entirely new moment in every performance. There’s also the creation of joy and happiness, not only in doing a job that he enjoys so much, and doing it very well, but also in the audience – when the adults become kids again, enjoying the acts of daring-do, and living vicariously through the performers.

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In moment after moment throughout the show, each one created by the whole performance team, spectators were enraptured, pulled in by the proximity, the physicality, of each act, in a way that cannot be captured on film.

One thing I greatly appreciate about the show and the performances is the great amount of effort that goes into making the show – the years of initial planning before the artists are involved, the months of training and then constant practicing and rehearsals, and the constant attention to detail and quality. Everyone, cast and crew, does their very best to create the best experience possible.

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That’s rather like steampunk and the activities in our community, isn’t it? We plan and we present; we create an experience for ourselves and for others. We create an image through our outfits, and some through personas or presentations. We create worlds in our books, artwork and music, and we create memories with others in our social events. These are things we create and contribute, and carry with us for the rest of our days.

David helped shape the technical designs that bring Kurios to life along with the artists. There is plenty of modern technology behind the scenes of the magic that people see from their seats. Even with programmed scripts, fine tuning and adjustments are always needed, all in the process of creating the best show possible.

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With Kurios, he also notes that even with the sets, the outfits, and the individual performances, there isn’t really a firmly set story line, more of an idea and a concept. Like steampunk, then, each viewer interprets everything slightly differently and creates their own narrative.

David talked about how many of the props were created from thrift shop finds and salvageable found materials. While they look great now, and authentically steampunk, there is challenge to keeping them all in good shape for the next several years of touring use. He says that many of them are being 3D scanned, and there’s a 3D printer on hand to create some replacement parts as needed.

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One of the design ideas behind the set and props was “High tech, low tech”. This is really shown best in the moving hand platform – a fiberglass shell on a two-person mechanical transport system. It looks old, metallic, and mechanical, and inside, it’s just two people driving and controlling the prop, which makes it easier to maintain and repair.

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There’s also the rolling display cases with the Edison lights inside. Clearly steampunk, and something that would look great in an Ambassador’s … uh, everyone’s, home, it’s simple low tech battery packs and signal switches inside. It’s a great looking prop that someone made, and it’s a great addition to creating a moment in the show.

Steampunk, like Kurios, is our workshop space to create and share new things with others, both tangible and abstract. It is one of our greatest assets and is something we should cherish and encourage at every opportunity.

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If you have the opportunity, put on your steampunk finest and go get inspired and motivated to create even more with a performance of Kurios. Failing that, at least buy the CD and enjoy the energy of the music.

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Head over to the website for show and ticket information, and to see which character you are in the Cabinet of Curiosities.

 

Kurios is in Seattle through the end of March, then

Calgary, Alberta opening April 9, 2015

Denver, Colorado opening June 11, 2015

then, Chicago, Illinois,

Costa Mesa, California,

Los Angeles, California.

 

For more information and interviews, check out these links

DailyXtra on Youtube

Amelie Robitaille Cirque de Soliel Interview

Nick Pitera Behind the Scenes Tour

Press release

 

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Published in: on February 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm  Comments (4)  
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  1. […] Airship Ambassador – Kurios as Workshop […]

  2. Reblogged this on Cogpunk Steamscribe and commented:
    More news relating to Steampunk Hands Around the World.

  3. […] Kurios as Workshop […]

  4. […] Used in the episodes opening montage. There’s several posts as part of Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – here, here, and here. […]


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