Bios and Class Descriptions

 

David Chabira

Cirque du Soleil Event Organizer

Director of Show Support

Resident Shows Division – Cirque du Soleil

David’s fascination with the circus began at age 14 when he landed his first job selling popcorn and cotton candy at the Arab Shrine Temple Circus in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas. After High School he literally ran away and joined the circus working first as a clown and later as an aerial artist. While performing the death defying high act; The Pirates of the Sky, he met his future wife Christine, a seventh generation circus performer. During their yearlong engagement, David designed and fabricated a brand new aerial spectacular to perform with his young bride. This act was an instant sensation and the duo toured extensively with circuses worldwide for the next seven years.

In 1990 David retired the act and settled with his wife and two young sons in Christine’s hometown of Sarasota, Florida. During this hiatus from the entertainment industry, David opened three restaurants in Florida but continued to design circus rigging and equipment, and take stagehand calls from IATSE Local 412.

With sawdust in his veins the desire to return to show business was just too strong. In 1997, David applied for a rigging position with Cirque du Soleil for their new production at Disney World. When the company discovered that David was not only a rigger but an avid scuba diver, he was offered a position at Cirque’s upcoming Aquatic Spectacular “O” at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

In January of 1998 David relocated his family across country to begin the arduous creation period for “O” as the Assistant Head of Rigging. In November of 1998, just days after the new show opened, he was promoted to Head of Rigging, a position he held for over nine years. In September of 2007, David was promoted to Technical Director for “O”.

 

Automation

Gemma Guy

VP Business Development

TAIT

Having trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the UK, Gemma Guy has been involved in the theatre entertainment industry for more than eighteen years. She has had extensive experience managing technical departments both onboard Carnival cruise ships and as technical coordinator in Carnival Corporation’s Miami headquarters. Gemma joined Stage Technologies as a Sales Manager in June 2006, enjoying two years in their London headquarters before being appointed VP Business Development in 2012. She is based out of the Las Vegas office.

 

Ben Gasper

Integrator

TAIT

An Alumni of Pennsylvania State University, Ben has been working in the field of automated rigging for over 10 years. Starting out in college building small tracking and counter weight assist systems, he moved to Cirque du Soleil’s production of “O”, at the Bellagio Theater in Las Vegas. During his time with “O” Ben performed regular maintenance on “O’s” 120 axes showroom, half of which were under water, as well as extensive automation upgrades to the entire showroom. In 2011 Ben took over as Assistant Head of Automation for O. In his new role Ben was able to streamline maintenance procedures and finish the integration of new systems to bring O’s automation system up to current industry standards.

In his current role as an automated and high performance rigging integrator, Ben travels the world for new tours primarily focusing on performing flying. This challenging field is incredibly excited at more and more high profile artists are wanting to fly.

Introduction to Automation

This course discusses trends and ideas that are currently in practice in the world of Theatre and Entertainment Automation. This is an introductory class that covers large brush stroke topics, and delves into the theory and practice.

Winch Theory

Using principles discussed in the Introduction to Automation course; this course will delve deep into winch design and the choices, design considerations, and safety with winches. We will have a Tait F-515 High Performance Performer Flying winch on hand for participants to touch and feel the real thing.

Careers in Automation

So many opportunities, is one of them right for you? This class’ format will be a presentation, followed by a relaxed group question and answer session, and some insights on best ways to land an Automation job in the entertainment industry.

 

Rigging

Mike Peters

Assistant Head of Rigging

“O” – Cirque du Soleil

Mike started as the lead rigger of the maintenance crew for O in 2003 before being promoted to Assistant Head of Rigging in 2007. Mike currently teaches an intro to technical theater class at the College of Southern Nevada. He has taught at UNLV and has been a guest lecturer for previous engagements at Purdue, North Carolina School of the Arts, and other institutions. Prior to Cirque du Soleil Mike worked for Royal Caribbean International on several of their ships for about 3 years as an Entertainment Rigging Specialist. He ran production shows, performed maintenance, and handled all the “Flying by Foy” equipment. He also did installs on new ships. Throughout his career Mike has also ben employed by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Peter Britt Music and Arts festival, the Lied Center, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Mike has a Masters of Fine Arts in Technical Direction from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a BFA from Southern Oregon State College in Technical Direction. In his free time he enjoys reading, bicycling and spending time with his wife and three children.

Essential Rigging – Knots & Terminations

Lecture and hands on time with rope and tools. All the basics you NEED.

Introduction to Rigging

An introduction to rigging techniques and equipment for theatre and live entertainment.

Rigging and Water at “O”

Rigging at a large-scale water show. The effects of H2O on rigging gear and working underwater on SCUBA.

 

Audio

Rob Lindsay

Head of Audio

The Beatles LOVE – Cirque du Soleil

Rob has almost 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry, with the last 12 years in Las Vegas with Cirque du Soleil. He has extensive touring and Broadway experience with many musical theatre productions.

Audio “Love” Life

This will cover a day in the life of the audio department at Love. We will go over the routine of the day here compared to a typical theatre show. We will also talk about the refresh process from last year.

Resume Review and Mock Interview Questions

A general review of what I and many of the other department heads are looking for in a resume for open positions along with the types of questions typically asked.

Lighting and Projections

 

Peter Thompson

Technical Manager – Lighting and Multimedia

Resident Shows Division – Cirque du Soleil

Peter Thompson is the Technical Manager for Lighting and Multimedia for Cirque du Soleil’s Resident Show Division.  In this current position, he develops electrical, lighting, and video infrastructures for Cirque du Soleil’s new and existing resident productions.  He is also part of the technical working group for Cirque’s Electrical Safety program, sits on the ESTA ETCP Council and is the Head of the working group for USITT’s eSET-Projections group.

In 10 years with Cirque du Soleil, he has also been the Head of Lighting and Projections for Cirque Resident, Big Top and Arena productions in Europe, Asia, North and South America.   During this time, he was also privileged to co-design video for the 2015 refresh of Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, and co-light design the 2014 addition of One Night for One Drop. 

 

Chris Stokes

ETC

Field Project Coordinator

Chris Stokes works at the Hollywood office for ETC as their field project coordinator.  He is responsible for product demonstrations, console trainings, educational lectures, site visits, troubleshooting, system design or basically anything related to ETC.  He earned his M.F.A. in Lighting Design at the California Institute of the Arts under tony award winner Don Holder and earned his undergrad degree in Theatre at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He specializes in lighting design for theatre and dance, but has extensive experience in live events, film, TV, new building construction, architectural design and rigging.  He was also the technical director at two regional theatres in Los Angeles: The Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN and The Wallis in Beverly Hills.  Chris has also been an assistant on numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions.  Some of the clients he manages are Nike, the NFL Network and of course the one and only Cirque Du Soleil. 

 

Aaron Hubbard

ACT Lighting

Aaron Hubbard is ACT’s sales person for the Western Region.  Hubbard was most recently Director of Business Development for Clearwing Productions, based in their Milwaukee office.

Previous to ACT, Hubbard spent 13 years with Clearwing Productions.  He served as Vice President of Operations and Lighting Operations Manager for a decade before his promotion to Director of Business Development for North America in August 2012.  In the latter capacity Hubbard connected new and current Clearwing clients with the company’s expert team of audio, video, lighting and systems professionals to deliver on customers’ production and installation needs.

Earlier, he was a freelance Lighting Director and Programmer, Customer Production Manager for Vari-Lite Los Angeles and Operations Manager for Vari-Lite Chicago.  Hubbard is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

 

Adam Camp

Western US Sales Mananger

Robe Lighting

Adam Camp is an award winning lighting and video designer whom for many years focused his efforts on Design Build projects. He has worked in the industry since High School and after college worked for a world renowned manufacturer of automated lighting as a support engineer in their control division. After many years of operating his own design build business and production company in Las Vegas he returned to the manufacturer world and currently represents the Western US for one of the largest global manufacturers of entertainment lighting and architectural LED in the industry.

 

Will Murphy

 

 

Paulina Zakh

Sila Sveta

Multimedia Curator

After completing Sotheby’s Institute of Art ‘Art & Business’ program, Paulina dedicated herself to contemporary art, serving as a Gallery Director at Erarta Museum and Galleries, largest worldwide project promoting Russian contemporary art, and curated over 30 international exhibitions. In 2015 she joined forces with Sila Sveta (the Power of Light in Russian) - an interactive media, turnkey production and conceptual design company. Sila Sveta’s works are an example of a great mix of technology and graphics that blurs boundaries between real and digital worlds. As Sila Sveta team says: ‘We like that our favourite genre of 3D mapping keeps on evolving and taking new forms. We’ve done large scale projections not only on buildings, but also cars, bridges, domes, tanks, 20 ft. human head and a space shuttle’. Paulina will give a talk on the creative and technical processes to create unforgettable shows. A large scale projection can be adapted to the architecture of any building or venue, presenting various kinds of video content. To transform surroundings with bright imagery Sila Sveta uses powerful professional projectors capable of working even in harsh environment. New technologies allow to integrate a projected image, lighting effects, music, fireworks and any other elements of the show in one controlling server.

 

Steve Gilbard                               

President, Theatrical Concepts, Inc.

President, coolux International, Inc.

As a technical innovator and consultant Steve has been an integral part of the performance and event industries for over 40 years, developing a reputation as a unique resource in all areas of live, permanent and touring. He has become one of the most sought after consultants for sophisticated video display projects specifically involving tracking, mapping and advanced technologies.

Steve serves as a consultant to such organizations as the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, highly successful TV shows including American Idol and Americas’ Got Talent, multiple Cirque du Soleil projects, Broadway and off Broadway shows, Ebay-Paypal, Disney Parks and Special events and many others. He was part of a team awarded a 2008 Prime Time Technical Emmy Award for ‘Advancements in the Art and Science of Television’ for video technology, based on coolux Pandoras Box. As consultant and lighting director for all press and interview areas at the Atlanta Olympics, he managed and designed over 20 venues for the Atlanta Olympic Committee in 1996.

Steve built coolux International in the Americas from a one-man start-up to the entertainment industry gold standard with effort, time, dedication and a lot of passion. Theatrical Concepts Inc. continues as the global leader in designing, creating and supporting the cutting edge technologies that have driven coolux International’s success since its inception a dozen years ago.

Beyond Magic Sheets: Documenting Difficult Light Designs

 

Projection Design and Technology Spotlight: Sila Sveta

 

Working in Lighting Beyond Being the Designer

 

From the Cutting Edge to the Future: Developments in Lighting and Projections, What’s Next?

 

GrandMA History and Systems Philosophy

 

Projection Design and Technology Spotlight: Theatrical Concepts

 

Carpentry/Props

Ben Stephenson

Head of Carpentry

The Beatles LOVE – Cirque du Soleil

Ben Stephenson serves as the Head Carpenter for The Beatles LOVE™. He oversees the operations of a team of 21 people, who perform the preventive inspections/maintenance and repairs needed, and show run crew duties to support the show, which runs 10 times a week. He and his team also collaborate, design, and produce scenery and props for a myriad of Cirque du Soleil PR/Marketing/Sales special events, including multiple television/film/outdoor music festival appearances.

Ben holds a B.F.A. in Scene Design/Technical Direction from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL. Prior to joining Cirque, he spent 6 years touring national and internationally with NETworks productions on various Broadway bus/truck shows. He moved to Las Vegas in 2005 as part of the “Broadway west” movement as the Head Carpenter for “Avenue Q” at The Wynn-Las Vegas.

“You say you want a _evolution…” – The Beatles LOVE Show

This presentation will give a broad stroke overview of the creation/evolution/and “refresh” of The Beatles LOVE™ by Cirque du Soleil. It will offer a look at, and discussion, regarding the earliest conceptual ideas, scenery and prop challenges and changes over the first 10 years of the run, and the re-imagining “refresh” of 2015/2016.

“Love is old, love is new; love is all, love is you….” Lennon-McCartney, ‘Because’, Abbey Road

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to get a Job

So you want to be a designer or have been trained to be a technical director…what does that really mean?

This session will discuss some of the post-graduation, technical theatre career path options, and aims to clarify/dispel any misperceptions that attendees might have regarding the “realities” of choosing one job over another (local, regional, various touring options, resident shows, house “gigs”, ect….)

Integrative Scenery and Props: A Look Beyond – Broadway Flats/Platforms/Drops/Set Decoration

Professional scenery and props construction often includes integrated/imbedded machinery and equipment from other theatre disciplines, and requires team work “cross-departmentally.” This session will look at several challenging projects and builds from the presenters’ work, and discuss varied problem-solving situations and long-term collaborations.

Wardrobe, Wigs, and Makeup

 

Randy Handley

Head of Wardrobe, Makeup, and Wigs

MJ One – Cirque du Soleil

 Randy is in his eighth year with Cirque du Soleil and is Head of Wardrobe on Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  Randy has worked on 3 other Cirque du Soleil shows Corteo, Banana Shpeel, and Zarkana at Radio City Music Hall. Randy holds a BFA in Costume Design and Technology from Millikin University as well as a MFA in Costume Production from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Randy has also worked with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Playmakers Repertory Company, Carolina Ballet, Hartford Stage Company NETworks, Million Dollar Quartet, Ke$ha,  Madonna, Leona Lewis, and One Night for One Drop.

 

Sandra Fox

Head of Wardrobe, Makeup, and Wigs

The Beatles LOVE – Cirque du Soleil

 Sandra grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and was highly influenced in her career choice by the variety of theatrical productions available to see in the city and surrounding areas. She attended Northern Illinois University, completing a BA in Theater Design and Technology, with an emphasis on costumes.

Before leaving school, Sandra was working three days a week at The Lyric Opera of Chicago; a job she enjoyed for four years. During off-season, Sandra spent time as a first hand at The Goodman Theater in Chicago. She also enjoyed working many different productions as a Wardrobe Attendant with the local union. During one season at The Goodman, Sandra was asked if she would consider becoming the Wardrobe Supervisor for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. She accepted, establishing a costume shop for the company, and touring internationally for seven years.

After 9/11, Sandra considered a career change. While working Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and spending time checking out Pharmacy programs at Chicago universities, Sandra were approached by Cirque du Soleil to interview for a touring show. One month later, she traveled around the world to Singapore to become Head of Wardrobe on Alegria.

Sandra enjoyed touring with Cirque, but was looking forward to settling down after touring for so many years. So, she accepted a position as Assistant Head of Wardrobe for KA. This gave her the opportunity to work a creation with Cirque du Soleil, learn about corporate theater, and supervise a large crew. When Cirque du Soleil announced it would be creating a new show at the Mirage, she applied to be Head of WardrobeThe Beatles LOVE has been her home since creation, and continues to be a challenge and a joy to Sandra every day.

Wigs

What’s the best way to prep your hair to ensure a wig stays on? We’ll take a hands-on look at various styles of wig preps which work for any length of hair. We’ll also discuss making a wig bubble and taking measurements of an artist’s head. All pins, headbands, and wig caps provided.

Shoes

This class will focus techniques used to take patterns from shoes, working with leather, and methods of soling shoes.

Makeup

With 15 years of experience as Head of Wardrobe at Cirque du Soleil, let Sandra Fox talk you through applying one of the classic Cirque makeup applications. Participants are asked to come with a clean face, and bring makeup cleansers with them. All brushes, sponges, and makeup will be provided.

Advanced Makeup

In this class, we will apply transformational character makeup. Continuing on with the basic technique of the first class, this application is more challenging in color palette, and utilizes products that require some finesse. Again, participants are asked to come with a clean face, and bring makeup cleansers with them. All brushes, sponges, and makeup will be provided.

Resumes

Randy Handley and Sandra Fox will be looking at and talking about resume building and presentation. Bring questions and a current resume.

Working with Cirque du Soleil

We’ll talk about the differences in the theater job market facing anyone who is looking. This will highlight the differences between regional theater, Broadway-style entertainment, opera companies, and corporate theater. We’ll talk about skills that are useful to have in the industry. We’ll also highlight the difference in jobs within Cirque du Soleil’s organization itself.

 

 

Company and Stage Management

Kim Scott

Company Manager

The Beatles LOVE – Cirque du Soleil

Kim Scott serves as the Company Manager for The Beatles LOVE™ by Cirque du Soleil at The Mirage in Las Vegas. She oversees more than 220 cast, crew and staff members who operate the production daily. She works with the marketing, ticketing, sales, public relations, health and safety, technical and show support departments to maximize the support to the show. Kim also manages the relationship with the MGM Resorts International support teams to ensure a successful and collaborative partnership between the two organizations.

Prior to her current position at The Beatles LOVE, she concurrently managed two Cirque du Soleil productions, CRISS ANGEL BeLIEve™ and The Beatles LOVE™. During her tenure with Cirque du Soleil, she served as Director of Show Support for the Resident Shows Division and was responsible for the conception and execution of the Educational Cooperative Program. This program is between Cirque du Soleil and key universities around the world. It gives faculty and students hands on training with technicians from our current productions.

Kim is a founder of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) Elite Training Program, a collaborative effort between USITT, Cirque du Soleil and their technical partners to provide students with an opportunity for hands on training with the technology used on the current Cirque productions. Kim is also the chair for the eSET Council; the Essential Skills for Entertainment Technicians. This council is defining the technical standards for entry level technicians working in live entertainment.

Kim is currently serving as interim Treasurer of USITT and is the chair of the eSET Council. She is also the Director at Large for the Intermountain Desert Section USITT. As well, she sits on the academic advisory boards of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Chapman University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, St. Clair College and the Academy of Art University. She is also proud to serve on the advisory boards for Nevada High School Theatre Technical Standards and Cure 4 the Kids Foundation Children's Specialty Center of Nevada.

Kim holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of California-Irvine. She had a vibrant professional career performing in concert dance and musical theatre before joining Cirque du Soleil.

 

Stacey Myers

General Stage Manager

KA – Cirque du Soleil

Stacey is a native Texan whose interest in the arts started at an early age as she comes from a musical family. She has been involved in entertainment, in one form or another, since middle school. In college she studied all levels music and was involved in the Radio, Television and Film department.

Stacey has been with Cirque du Soleil for over 13 years. She initially joined Alegria in Biloxi as a technician. Later Stacey went on tour with Alegria as a Stage Manager for almost 4 years during which time she became the General Stage Manager, visiting such places as Australia, Canada, and Singapore and opened the market in Mexico.

Stacey is now the General Stage Manager for our resident show KÀ at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel.

She was involved with the creation of KÀ from 2004 and happily continues to face the challenges of one of our largest shows.

 

Mary Barnett

General Stage Manager

The Beatles LOVE – Cirque du Soleil

Mary Barnett hates talking about herself in the 3rd person, almost as much as she hates writing her own bio.  Before she was able to complain about such trivial things, Mary graduated with a B.A. in Theatre/Speech from Wagner College – located on Staten Island, merely a few miles from one of the largest landfills in the world.  While living in New York after college, Mary stage managed shows with Prospect Theatre Company, New York Classical Theatre, Shawnee Playhouse, and College Light Opera Company.  She then hit the road with the national tours of “Rent” and “Seussical the Musical,” and eventually landed in Las Vegas with “Avenue Q” at The Wynn Hotel, followed by a brief stint with Penn & Teller. 

Mary has worked for Cirque du Soleil since 2006, mostly at “The Beatles LOVE” where she is currently General Stage Manager.  She also spent a blissful 10 weeks with Cirque du Soleil’s “KA,” and was Production Stage Manager for the 2015 benefit performance for the foundation One Night for One Drop.  Mary’s husband is an Automation technician for Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson ONE,” and they are attempting to raise their 2 kids with minimal exposure to strippers and gambling.

Managing a Large-Scale Production

Company Manager Kim Scott discusses supervising The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage. Other shows may be bigger but LOVE has the most variation in automation equipment, straight trollies, diagonal trollies, traps, sloats, and more. A lot of these elements are used simultaneously especially during the opening sequence. LOVE also has the most cues per minute of any show on the strip, nearly 1.5 cues per minute on average.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

What’s the difference and how to use them (either alone or together) to be the most effective.

The Call

See and listen to the call of two of Cirque’s largest shows.

What 95% of You Don’t Like to Do and How to Make It Easier!

Discipline and Conflict Resolution – We discuss the tools needed to maintain order in any situation.

In-Cite for Theatrical Management

The use of quotes as discussion points. Don’t be surprised if your thoughts are validated and you learn something new at the same time!

 

 

Dance

 

Sarah Davison

Head of Casting and Artistic Advisor

Resident Shows Division – Cirque du Soleil

Sarah started her formal dance training as a dancer with her mother in Toulouse, France. After multiple prizes on the National scene, she obtained her degree in Dance and Choreography from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Lyon at the age of 16.

Sarah then started her professional career performing with several neo-classical and Jazz companies in France before she came to North America as an original cast member of Céline Dion’s A New Day. She continued to refine and broaden her experience in live theater in Le Rêve and most recently as a cast member of Viva ELVIS.

She has had the honor of being trained and working with many of the Dance industry, in many styles such as Ballet, Neo-classical, Jazz, Modern, Hip-Hop and Ballroom. She also has done several TV appearances such as “Dancing with the Stars”,” The Oprah Winfrey Show”, “The Jerry Lewis Telethon “and the “American Music Awards”.

Beside her busy career on stage, she has been a producer and project manager of many events in the Las Vegas area, as well as teaching classes and workshops all over Europe and in the Las Vegas Local scene.

Sarah joined the Cirque du Soleil Casting team in 2012 as an Artistic Advisor in charge of the Resident Shows. She was promoted earlier this year to Head of Casting for the Resident Shows Division, in addition to her duty as an Advisor. Since joining Casting, Sarah very much enjoys sharing her experience with hopeful artists, and being a part of the realization of their performing dreams.

Dance Masterclass

Warm-up, technique, progressions, and combo.

Improvisation Workshop

Own Piece

Mock Audition (PRIVATE CLOSED SESSION. NO SPECTATORS. By invitation only)