Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Atherton Twins Fly High in Cirque du Soleil’s Iris

  Matt Beard © 2011 Cirque du Soleil

Here’s the thing about a show like Cirque du Soleil’s latest masterpiece, Iris, if we start to tell you too much it will ruin the element of surprise. So we’ll let the experience unfold for those of you lucky enough to be in Los Angeles sometime in the next ten years — the length of the show’s run.

But we will give you not one but two reasons to catch the latest Cirque extravaganza — Kevin and Andrew Atherton. After seeing the show recently we were able to be part of a press event with the twins who dazzle on the aerial straps routine. They were joined by Iris artistic director Denise Biggi and company manager Randy Meyer.

The Atherton brothers perform a poetically death-defying act in which they gracefully fling themselves above the audience on what look like giant rubber bands. Since this didn’t seem like a normal career path for two kids from Manchester, England, they recounted their unusual journey.

They explained, “We started gymnastics at the age of seven, artistic gymnastics, and we did gymnastics for over 17 and a half years. And then Cirque du Soleil has what they call casting scouts that come obviously to major events, gymnastics events, dancing events, everything that you can think of. Cirque du Soleil have casting scouts that go all over the world. And we were discovered at the world Championships in China at the age of 20 years old, asked if we would be interested in joining Cirque du Soleil.”

Surprisingly perhaps, the twins weren’t familiar with the fantastical franchise. They recalled, “We’d never really heard of Cirque du Soleil at the time. Obviously we did a bit of research. We went to see our first show, which was Alegria in the Royal Albert Hall in London. From that moment we fell in love with the company and what we saw.”

But they were immediately taken with this spectacular form of entertainment. They shared, “We knew we wanted to be a part of it. At the age of 24 we joined Cirque du Soleil, helped create the show called Varekai, which we went on the road with it for eight and a half years. Then we left that show and came to create this show and obviously we’re here now.”

The new show is a movie themed event permanently on display in the heart of Hollywood. Meyer revealed, “This is the only place in the world that you’ll see Iris. The plan is that we’re here for a long time — ten years plus… This is designed for L.A., designed for the Kodak Theater. We’re here to stay. This is an L.A. staple.”

And if Biggi has her way, the twins will be part of the show for a long, long time. She acknowledged, “Most of the show is going to remain the same. Hopefully enough Kevin and Andrew will never leave so we won’t have to replace them. But there will be inevitable and desirable evolution to the show. Time passes, we can’t help for something to evolve. Every time that an artist leaves and a new artist comes, all of a sudden there’s a new subtle difference that starts working into the show and a lot of subtle differences make evolution of the show. So no change per se but life continues. It is a living organism.”

To learn more about Iris visit the Cirque du Soleil website.

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