Friday, September 7, 2007

WE People - CLARENCE FORD - Cirque Du Soleil - Kooza

This dynamic Toronto native has choreographed performances for top musicians, Hollywood movies, Olympic medalists and now the Cirque Du Soleil hit Kooza…and he always remembers to give thanks to his city.

By Stacey Marie Robinson

Toronto-born choreographer Clarence Ford has effortlessly evolved from a teenager grooving on CityTV’s dance show Boogie and touring with the dance troupe Soul Express, to designing the intricate movements in the spectacular Cirque Du Soleil production, Kooza. He travels the world, coordinating routines, directing documentaries, and taking in a variation of shows in his spare time. Among his many passions, Ford has deep love and appreciation for his hometown, and the opportunities it has presented him with.

Even in the midst of the hit show Kooza, Ford still reflects on the importance of his culture, and how it easily translates to the stage. This experience has allowed him to bring his natural element of urban movement to traditional circus performers. Ford has been praised for allowing the cast to also develop their own personal language of motion within the production, heartily encouraged in rehearsals with his ritual James Brown-inspired warm up.

Kooza, written and directed by David Shiner, combines the circus traditions of clowning and acrobatic performance, using slapstick humour and extravagant colours. Shiner notes that the production is about “human connection and the world of duality, good and bad,” featuring characters like the Trickster, the Pickpocket, and the Obnoxious Tourist.

Ford finds that working with the diverse cast has provided an enriching experience for him. He stressed the understanding of cultures, and the unique opportunity of working and growing as an artist through these experiences; important lessons learned growing up in one of the world’s most multicultural cities.

“It’s a really great business,” said Ford who plans to continue to create masterpieces within all facets of the arts and show business. “Toronto is the kind of place where you can find work as an artist, and grow. A lot of people think you have to go to the United States to find opportunities, but you can stay in Toronto, work your craft, and get it tight.”

Whenever his schedule brings him back home, Ford makes sure to extend the Cirque Du Soleil experience to the city’s youth, giving them the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals and cast workshops. He recognizes the importance of being able to dream, and having access to new endeavours. Ford is eager and proud to share his passion with the young people of Toronto’s communities.

It’s Ford’s ability to combine his eclectic background, and repertoire of cultures that makes him able to relate to the Toronto public and give them a great show, leaving audiences at the edge of their seats from beginning to end. Ford notes that Toronto audiences require, and deserve, nothing less than a high grade of talent.

Since Kooza’s Toronto debut on August 9 at the Grand Chapiteau at the Port Lands (at Cherry and Commissioner Streets), Ford admits that he still can’t get enough of the show. Not only to watch the death-defying acrobatics and his carefully constructed choreography, but simply just to enjoy the spectacle of it all.

“Cirque de Soleil has changed the world of entertainment,” said Ford. “We have some of the best circus acts in the world. It’s a great show; a circus with a story.” This story of identity, recognition and power will continue to amaze Kooza’s Toronto audience until October of this year.

“I’ve seen about 50 shows already,” said Ford. “And I can’t get tired of it.”

(Tickets for Kooza can be purchased online at or by calling 1-800-361-4595.)

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