GT Stage

Interview: Mark Ward (Quidam)

We catch up with Cirque Du Soleil veteran Mark Ward

Cirque Du Soleil's visually enchanting productions are world famous, and stalwart performer Mark Ward, has never missed a show. Quidam continues this tradition of spectacle and we caught up with one of its leading men to tell us more.

Did you always know you wanted to be a dancer?
I was always around dance as a child, but I did not really want to be a dancer until I saw a male ballet dancer fly across the stage on a TV programme. I remember asking my friend if he saw how that guy could jump? His reply was, “You mean that guy wearing women’s underwear??” So, I put being a dancer on the back burner, so to speak and became a gymnast, because it gave me that flying feeling that I was looking for. I did not know any guys in my group of friends dancing. It was not until I was in High School and my English teacher tricked me into a ballet class. Two months after that I was already training in a professional school.
Many of us have dreamed about running away and joining the circus. What first attracted you personally to Cirque du Soleil?
I was dancing with the Chicago City Ballet when I received a call from a person from Cirque du Soleil telling me they were looking for a dancer and acrobat. 20 years later after this call I am still with them and enjoying every moment.

Tell us more about your character John in Quidam?
John is the MC, more or less. He is the link between the public and the stage. I like to think of him as I kid trapped inside the body of a man.

How long does it take you to transform into John?
It takes about an hour and forty-five minutes every day.

What would you say is your most memorable performance during Cirque Du Soleil?
When I had the chance to perform in front of 350 people that I grew up with, family and friends. It was very moving for me.
How physically demanding is being part of it?
I'm in the gym four times a week with a personal trainer. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes eating well. I would have to say that resistance to red wine and dark chocolate is futile.

Before Cirque du Soleil, you were an accomplished classical pianist. Do you have any future plans to return to music?
I trained as a classical pianist as well as having a full career as a gymnast, acrobat and dancer. I feel that my music and my piano will always be a part of me.
For people who haven’t seen a Cirque du Soleil production, what can they expect?
Kids know how to have fun and enjoy life. Sometimes as adults we forget how to have fun. I believe that Cirque Du Soleil helps us rediscover and connect with the child that we all have within us.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to be a performer? Joining this business we call show...
It's a wonderful way of life. However, you must work hard and be determined to reach your goals. Sometimes people will say no to what you have to offer, but you have to keep searching for the person, that company that will say YES.

Quidam is about to start an international tour this month, continuing into 2014. It reaches the UK Sat 4 January - Sunday 16 February at London's Royal Albert Hall. For more information on the UK dates, click here and for international dates click here.

Words: Lee Dalloway (@leeroydalvin)

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