A couple members of Cirque du Soleil brought a little bit big top magic to Watertown this week when they visited Cunniff Elementary School.
Students in the Extended Day Program at Cunniff greeted Kelly McDonald, an acrobat, and Gracie Valdez, artistic director of the latest Cirque show coming to Boston, called Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico.
During the visit, the pair answered questions from many students, including a few writing a story for Cunniff Kids News, the school’s online newspaper. The children wanted to know things like how to get into the circus, their favorite place they have performed and what happens if you make a mistake during a performance.
McDonald said that the children should find something that interests them and then practice hard.
“I practiced gymnastics all the way through high school and continued through college,” McDonald said. “After that I was asked to do an audition and I was invited to be in the circus.”
Valdez said the show has other people who have become the best in their talent, including the most flexible man in the world and one of the strongest men in the world.
Cirque du Soleil is based in Montreal, but travels around North America and across the globe. Luzia will finish a run in Washington, D.C., before coming to Boston. McDonald said that her favorite stop so far was Seattle.
“I’m from Seattle, so that was my favorite place,” McDonald said. “I got to perform in my hometown in front of my family, my coaches and my teammates.”
The performers rehearse many hours, so they do not make many mistakes, Valdez said, but sometimes they do happen. She told the children about one instance.
“There are a lot of costume changes in the show, and once a performer went out with the wrong shorts on,” Valdez said. “He had to do the routine wearing different shorts from the other performers. He never did that again.”
Cirque du Soleil will set up its big top at Suffolk Downs. Performances will begin on June 27 and run through Aug. 12, according to publicist Francis Talbert. The show will be performed six days a week, with 8 to 10 shows a week. The last time Cirque du Soleil came was two years ago, Talbert said, though they had an arena show last fall.
The current show is a set of dreams taking place in Mexico, Valdez said.
“There are a lot of different settings: sometimes it is in the desert, sometimes it is underneath the water, or on the corner playing soccer,” Valdez said. “We go to a lot of places in our imaginary Mexico.”
McDonald said it was a treat to talk to the students.
“It is so fun to be able to speak to people face to face, and show them about Cirque du Soleil,” McDonald said.
Cunniff was one of several stops for the team from Cirque on Monday. They were invited to visit the school by John Vitti, a Watertown parent and Boston Globe reporter who also is advisor to the Cunniff Kids News. He knew a Boston-area publicist who was able to link him with the circus.
He said the budding journalists will get a lot out of the visit from Cirque du Soleil.
“They’ll learn more talking to them for 10 to 15 minutes than they ever will going to the show,” Vitti said.
Ticket information for Cirque du Soleil’s Boston shows can be found at cirquedusoleil.com. The student’s story will be able to be seen on the Cunniff Kids News website, cunniffkidsnews.com, when is finished, likely next week.