This month, Cirque du Soleil brings their latest production, KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, to the DC area. Opening on July 21 at Tysons II, the production will be in town through mid-September. The steampunk show explores the curio cabinet of an inventor called The Seeker. His work defies the laws of time and space, reinventing the world into a mysterious and exciting new place where he finds inspiration.
The DMV’s own Ryan Shinji Murray helped create one of the key parts of the performance, using a brand new technology called Acro Net. Murray, who grew up in Ashton, Md., had his sights set on Cirque du Soleil for a long time. In 2009, he sent in an acrobatic reel, and much to his surprise, he heard back right away.
“They asked me to audition the next day,” he recalls. “It was amazing.”
Although at the time he wasn’t offered a position with the company, he did hear back a couple of years later, when they were developing a new show.
“I got a call from [Cirque du Soleil] asking me to work on this thing they had a really hard time describing: ‘It’s going to be a trampoline, but a trapeze net, and like Water World.’”
Murray was sold, and took part in the nine-month creation process for KURIOS. Acro Net has been his focus for the show, using a net held in place by motors rather than bungees that allows for far more tension. It’s the first time something like this has been used in the circus. Murray likens it to jumping on a trampoline with multiple people and using the collective strength of the group to launch one person into the air.
“Take that and have a bunch of professionals doing it on the most powerful piece of equipment that’s ever been built for that purpose,” he says. “It’s pretty extreme.”
Acro Net isn’t the only thing that’s unique about KURIOS by Cirque du Soleil standards. Murray points out that, unlike past shows that feature mystical and magical creatures, humans are at the very heart of the story.
“You see a lot more faces, and even when someone wears a silly costume, you can see the person behind it,” he says. “It brings a much more personal feel to the show between the performer and audience. It’s a more intimate feel for the performers on the stage.”
On top of excitement about performing in the show he helped create, Murray is thrilled to be back in the DC area. He’s spent much of the past several years on tour, making it difficult to spend time with friends and family. But being in the area for several months offers plenty of opportunities to catch up.
“I’ll really have time to connect with a lot of people I grew up with and knew as a kid,” he says. “That’s really exciting to me.”
Lerner Town Square at Tysons II: 8025 Galleria Dr. Tysons, VA;www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios
Performance photos: Martin Girard, shootstudio.ca
Ryan Shinji Murray photos: Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil