On the evening of April 3rd, FIU Theatre hosted two members (Chris Velvin and Janice Scherry) of the world renowned Cirque du Soleil team for dinner and conversations with Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) Design, Tech & Management students. The Cirque duo visited campus to share their experiences in the industry with students, focusing on what it means to work for a company like Cirque du Soleil.
Thursday, April 4th Chris visited FIU Theatre’s Head of Design and Production Jesse Dreikosen’s Stagecraft class to give a presentation on the “Carpentry of Cirque”, and what it means to be a technician with the company. Janice visited FIU Theatre’s (Instructor – Costume Shop Head – Costume Designer) Marina Pareja’s Costume Technology class to present on the “Wardrobe of Cirque”, and the session included examining actual examples of costumes used in Cirque productions.
This was the second part to FIU Theatre’s “An Evening with Cirque”, the first was a backstage tour of Totem in February! FIU Theatre Meets Cirque Du Soleil’s ‘Totem”
Cirque du Soleil Guest Bios
Chris Velvin – Health & Safety Manager, Cirque du Soleil Resident Shows Division in Las Vegas:
Chris Velvin’s experience with professional theater started 1989 with Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals. Chris was hired as a dancer and performed there for three summers. During that time he was able to gain experience as a stagehand, earning an extra $10 a week helping with maintenance and changeover between sets. Chris graduated with a BA in Dance from the University of Texas in 1992. The next three years were spent performing for Hershey Park, Busch Gardens, Disney World, and Princess Cruises before finally settling down in Las Vegas at the Siegfried and Roy show in 1995. Chris was able to return to the technical side of theater as a Carpenter at the MGM Grand for Entertainment Special Projects and the Grand Garden arena, when not working for S&R. Chris retired from performance in 1999 and moved backstage full time as a Carpenter, Rigger, and finally Props Technician for Siegfried and Roy, while moonlighting at the MGM. In 2003, Siegfried and Roy abruptly closed. At that time Cirque du Soleil was hiring technicians for their new production KÀ, at the MGM. Chris was one of the first 4 carpenters hired for that creation and quickly moved to lead and then Assistant Head of Carpentry in charge of maintenance and training. Chris worked with all departments at KÀ to create a safe working environment that also met OSHA, ANSI, NFPA, EPA and Building Department standards. In 2007, Chris accepted the newly created position of Health and Safety Manager for Cirque du Soleil’s Resident Shows Division. In this role, Chris has collaborated with Health and Safety colleagues in Montreal, Technical and Show Support in Las Vegas, and corporate partners to develop the Health and Safety Program, for both artists and technicians, for 14 resident Cirque du Soleil shows around the world. In the spring of 2011, Chris completed his Masters of Business Administration.
Janice Scherry – Head of Wardrobe, Orlando’s La Nouba
Janice Scherry is in charge of a team at Orlando’s La Nouba production. She oversees design, fitting, and maintenance of all the performer’s costumes.