Boris Verkhovsky will be watching backstage at the première of Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria arena tour at the Halifax Metro Centre May 27.

The Russian-born coaching director of the legendary company never takes notes on opening night. Instead he likes to keep an eye on the audience.

“I think the most exciting thing is when you see people of different ages,” Verkhovsky said during an interview in a downtown Halifax hotel Tuesday to promote the company’s two-week stop in the city.


“When you see an older person being so jubilated and touched by watching the show, you know that they’re suffering from pain, you know that they have more than enough worries, and yet you see almost a childish look in the eye. It’s terrific.”

Alegria is a Spanish word meaning happiness, joy and jubilation. Verkhovsky said Alegria happens when physical acrobatics meet theatre.

“Acrobatically it’s a show that will challenge the level of what is reasonable, what is acceptable, what is possible,” he said.

During the show, which includes 55 performers from 17 countries, gymnasts will tumble across the stage and trapeze artists will fly through the air while musicians play melodies with folklore flare.

The internationally acclaimed show premièred in 1994, the year after Verkhovsky began his life and career with Cirque du Soleil. The job consumes his free time. He says he’s a man who doesn’t know holidays.

“The work that I do is so exciting and so demanding that somehow it became also my hobby. I enjoy it, I love it.”

But backstage on opening night, Verkhovsky will feel a bit of healthy tension.

“The feeling is probably, more than anything else, it’s a bloody miracle that it can come together … If people forget everything that they’ve worried about all day for this two and a half hours and celebrate, then we’ve told a story of happiness.”

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