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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 5
The Peacock Goddess - Amaluna's Amy McClendon offers glimpse into new Cirque show
Arts & Entertainment
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The Peacock Goddess - Amaluna's Amy McClendon offers glimpse into new Cirque show

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

AMALUNA
Cirque du Soleil
MARYMOOR PARK, REDMOND
Through March 24


Women - they run the world. Indeed, in Cirque du Soleil's brand new production Amaluna, it's the ladies who dominate the foreground and background - the cast is two-thirds female. One of the show's principal performers is Amy McClendon, who stars as the Peacock Goddess. A professionally trained dancer who has also appeared on Broadway, she offered Seattle Gay News a sneak peek into Amaluna, which began its local run on January 31. For tickets, go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/amaluna. Here is what McClendon was able to reveal to us just before opening night.

Albert Rodriguez: What about Amaluna sets it apart from other Cirque du Soleil performances?

Amy McClendon: Amaluna is unique because its cast is 70 percent women. It's a show about an island ruled by Goddesses and in many ways exhibits the beauty, strength, delicacy, and power that women possess.

Rodriguez: What is your role in the production, and how does your character pertain to the overall story or theme?

McClendon: I play the role of the Peacock Goddess, and for me, my character represents the love, mystery, and beauty women possess. As the Peacock Goddess, like many of the other Goddesses, our jobs are to protect Miranda. And the way that I show my protection is by teaching Romeo how to care for a woman, what it means to love, and that it's important to have faith and fight for your love, especially when times are tough. After I teach him his lesson and see that he understands how to love her, I then take him to Miranda. However, every great teacher gives a test to make sure the student has learned their lesson. So, I return as a Black Peacock and snatch Miranda away to see if Romeo will actually go after her. Does he love her enough to risk everything? Because essentially, that's what love is about.

Rodriguez: Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the costumes, the music, and the set design?

McClendon: Right when you get into the Big Top, the audience is immediately transported to another world. The set really makes people feel like they are part of our island and in the world of Amaluna! In regards to the costumes, one of the main inspirations for the show was Shakespeare's The Tempest and that is really represented in the costumes. They have a very Shakespearean and Elizabethan feel to them, but at the same time are colorful, vibrant, and flashy. One thing that really sets Amaluna apart is the music. For the first time ever in Cirque's history, we have a band composed of all women. Their sound has a real rock techno edge to it, which is very different from what people have heard from Cirque before. These ladies can really rock the Big Top.

Rodriguez: How long have you worked professionally as a performer, and where did you start?

McClendon: About seven or eight years. I had professional dancing jobs while in college, like apprenticing for the Francesca Harper Project and performing at the Holland Dance Festival. I also had other memorable opportunities, like performing with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for their 50th anniversary season. However, after college is when I was able to work more consistently, of course, and ventured into the musical theater world. I performed in The Wiz and Hairspray, and was a featured dancer in City Center's production of Lost in the Stars.

Rodriguez: Will you have time to explore Seattle during the Amaluna run?

McClendon: I most definitely will make time. I plan to take dance classes in Seattle a few times a week (I have to stay up on my technique). I also look forward to teaching Horton dance master classes in Seattle as well. And of course, I will get some shopping and sightseeing in on my double-dark off-days!

Rodriguez: Is there any part of the show that's your absolute favorite?

McClendon: Yes. I personally enjoy audience interactions and there are two distinct moments where I actually get to interact with the audience in a more intimate way than performing on the stage. As the Black Peacock, I travel through the audience and sneak up behind them to add a little thrill to their experience! Everyone reacts differently and it's the most interesting thing to see. Some are shocked and a bit frightened, and others are in awe and amazed, but regardless of the two reactions everyone eventually lights up with the brightest smiles. I also enjoy the bows. It's the one moment where we approach the audience and can see just how much they enjoyed the show. We can look them right in the eyes, less as characters and more as real people. It's the moment when I remember why I am doing what I am doing and why each performance has to be even better than the last.

Rodriguez: How does someone become a Cirque du Soleil performer? Do they audition?

McClendon: It varies. I know some who submitted videos and were selected, some were contacted via a recommendation or YouTube video searches, and some, like me, who auditioned. A performer can always go to the Cirque du Soleil website, find their discipline, and submit their information according to the guidelines.

Rodriguez: Will you continue with the Amaluna show throughout its North American tour?

McClendon: It's definitely something I'm thinking about. The 2014 tour plan has some really great cities listed, so it's definitely a consideration!

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