This Friday and Saturday, some of the greatest circus performers in the world will be onstage at the Meyerson Center in Dallas. Cirque Musica is the brain child of Steve Cook, who has brought together a creative team that includes Academy Award-nominated composer Marcelo Zarvos; Bello Nock, who was recently named "Gold Clown" at the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival; and electronic violinist Tracy Silverman.
Cirque Musica will be performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The music will include both classical and pop pieces—excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Holst's The Planets, and works by John Williams and the Beatles.
Cook has almost 20 years of experience in the entertainment and marketing industry. Prior to starting The Cooking Group, he held leadership positions at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Six Flags Over Texas, Universal Orlando Resort, The Tussaud's Group in Las Vegas and Feld Entertainment.
Cirque Musica debuted this summer in San Diego. Cook says they are booked through 2013. The "flying" violinist in Cirque Musica is Kathleen Sloan, who is from Dallas and trained under now-retired concertmaster Emanuel Borok.
TheaterJones: Do you think Cirque Musica will bring a new audience to the Meyerson?
Steve Cook: Yes. The Symphonic world is changing on a nationwide basis and is going through an interesting time right now. The audiences are changing and to bring new audiences in, you need to offer a broad product that encompasses as many elements as possible. There's just so much competition.
Has anyone turned their nose up at the idea of putting circus performers with a symphony orchestra?
No [laughs]. There are symphonic purists who believe that the music should be it. That's there and that's going to continue, and it should. Cirque Musica is a high quality show. The creative team is top-notch. It makes artistic sense, because the music in the show is good music that challenges the players and is entertaining for the audience.
Have you found this to be a tough time to try something new, because of the financial difficulty that everyone is facing?
That hasn't really been a problem, because symphonies across the country are looking for this kind of programming. Most of them, even now the Philladelphia Orchestra and the one in Cleveland are now starting to play popular music.
How long did you think about Cirque Musica before you were able to make it a reality?
Oh, I've been thinking about this for years. My poor wife. I would say "What about this?" and then go on to say "I want the violinist to float into the air!" That sounds crazy, but we have pulled it off! That has been the most amazing thing about producing this show—to have an idea about something and then to see it happening in real life.