The holiday season brings a more intimate look into the characters as
they reflect on their lives and relationships outside Cirque du Soleil.
|First Aired: ||October 6, 2002 (Global)
January 27, 2003 (Bravo)
It is December 22, 2001. We pan across the frozen headquarters of
Cirque du Soleil covered by a white blanket of snow. The troupe is
preparing for their eagerly awaited Christmas holiday; they have not
had a break in four months. We will accompany them as they relax with
family and friends. This episode provides a temporary reprieve from
the hectic and stressful feel of the others and provides an
opportunity to get to know the performers in a more casual setting.
Before leaving for the holidays, Director Dominic Champagne sits down
with talent scout Michel Laprise and watches a video tape of an
audition for the new show's singer. Over 100 candidates have already
been rejected. This candidate is Adrian Berinde, a large, middle-aged
Romanian man, with a low, husky and guttural voice which particularly
stands out. The director describes him as "the Tom Waits of
Bucharest, the Leonard Cohen of Romania." Dominic Champagne is still
a little doubtful, "He's got no technique. He can't read music." But
Michel counters, "He plays guitar, he's in a band. He's launching his
fifth album this week and he's ready to drop everything for us." Not
wanting to prolong the start of his holiday, the director relents and
accepts the new singer.
Before everyone leaves for the break, Dominic Champagne calls a group
meeting where he will unveil the title of the new show. He explains
his inspiration. "These are people without countries, without roots
but they have [such a] strong culture inside themselves that they can
survive without a country, carrying their culture inside themselves.
So, I have the same respect and admiration for that culture [as I do]
for people like you; acrobats that have the key to open any door and
to enter the king's court. So that's why I suggest to call this show
'Varekai' which means, in the gypsy language, 'wherever'." The group
applauds their show's new name. Then, everybody splits off for their
We see the Atherton twins on Sainte-Catherine Street, Montreal's main
shopping district. They are waiting for an airport shuttle as they
will be spending their vacation in Las Vegas.
Ashley reunites with his girlfriend, Sarah, whom he has not seen in
four months. She comes to Montreal to live with him. Ashley shares
some of his concerns for their future, "It's all up in the air at the
moment with work and touring, 'cause I don't know what it's going to
be like and she's been asking me questions and I can't give her
answers 'cause I've not toured yet." He's been considering marriage
but is uncertain what the ramifications of life on the road will be,
"I don't even know what the show's going to be like and I've just
signed three years to do it. I just don't want [Sarah] to come here
and for it not to work." Ashley and Sarah share a joyous reunion at
the airport and some tender moments during the ride home.
None of the performers have relatives in Montreal, so show
choreographer Michael Montanaro throws a Christmas Eve party at his
home for those who have stayed in town. Acrobatic Pas de Deux dancer
Oleg regales his fellow artists with stories of his nomadic life. We
watch as the performers eat, drink and make merry.
Stella has gone home to Toronto for the holidays and has invited two
of her fellow trapeze artists, Zoe and Helen, to join her and her
family for a nice Christmas dinner. After dinner, the phone rings and
as Stella picks up, she eyes the camera and says, "I'm switching
phones." She facetiously rolls her eyes and says, "Ah, you think I'm
letting you guys come in on my conversation? You've got to be
joking." The camera playfully chases Stella to her bedroom where she
slams the door on it as she taunts, "Get out camera boy." We instead
join her mother, washing dishes in the kitchen, "Is that her boyfriend
Sam calling?" her mom asks. "Her most recent flavor . . . oh well,
poor Stella," she sighs.
We then join Gareth sleeping in his bed on Christmas morning. Or
should we say Christmas afternoon, he apparently had a very good time
at Michael Montanaro's party the previous night. He receives a call
from his mother in London. Gareth could not afford to fly home to see
her. He speaks briefly with his sister and baby nephew. His mother
is still not well, she must go back to the hospital for more cancer
tests. She informs Gareth as the melancholy song "Rideau" from
Saltimbanco plays in the background. Gareth wipes a tear from his eye
and we share his sorrow in a genuinely touching moment.
Meanwhile, we cut from snowy Montreal to rainy London, England,
Gareth's home town. We meet Russian hand-balancer/contortionist Olga
Pikhienko as she rides the bus to work. We pass Big Ben and posters
advertising the Cirque du Soleil show Quidam where Olga has performed
since she was 15 years old. She is now nearing the end of her five-
year run with Quidam and will soon move to Montreal to star in
Varekai. She arrives at the white Quidam Grand Chapiteau. Backstage,
Olga is wearing a new, two-piece costume and proceeds to apply her
make-up and paints temporary arm band and thigh band tattoos. The
soft-spoken and radiantly beautiful Olga shares her apprehension about
leaving Quidam, "I'm a little sad, I feel it more and more coming that
I have to leave this tour and leave my friends behind. There are new
people that I will have to hang out with and work with and I don't
know them yet, I don't know how they are inside and it makes me
nervous a bit." Christmas Eve is just another night for Olga and she
gives an absolutely electrifying performance for the London crowd.
From the few short clips of her performance it's evident that she has
gotten even better since Quidam was filmed in 1999. She gives her
heart and soul in a performance that's sexier and edgier than ever
Olga says goodbye to the group of performers who have been her family
for the past five years. However, working in Montreal will allow her
to reunite with her actual family. Her father is an acrobatic coach
with Cirque and they will work together for the new show.
After the much needed rest and relaxation of the holidays the
performers go back to the Cirque grindstone and once again start
furiously rehearsing for the ever-encroaching premiere. In a montage
set to the music "Terre Aride" from "O" we watch the Russian Swings,
Triple Trapeze and several interstitial sequences in rehearsal. The
show's magnificently intricate set will be constructed in the studio
over New Year's and the performers will work to transfer their acts
into the new environment.
Finally, we attend a New Year's party with the performers at Stella's
boyfriend's stylish loft. They count down and jubilantly greet the
New Year with hugs and kisses all around. "Happy New Year Lewis,"
Gareth exclaims as he reaches toward the camera and shakes the hand of
Fire Within director Lewis Cohen.