Guilluame Blais is flying high in Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal.
Performer finds his own queer story in Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
In Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal, the show’s story has a certain resonance with queer audiences. At least, the show-on-ice does for Cirque performer Guillaume Blais. As the show tours, and Blais and company head to North Texas, he’s found much more in this production beyond the wondrous high-flying and figure skating action.
In Crystal, , traditional circus acts — including swinging trapeze, aerial straps, hand-balancing, banquine and pendular poles — were adapted to be performed on ice. More than 40 artists, both acrobats and skaters, perform in the air and on the ice.
At the heart of the story is Crystal, a young woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. The further the narrative pulls the audience into this world, the more their adrenaline soars, as Crystal becomes who she was always destined to be: herself.
“To me, the main character, this young girl, has these ups and downs in this confined space,” Blais said. “She’s trying to break through the ice to get out of it. She wants to come out of that space.
“Through that journey and hearing from the creators, I saw the intelligence behind Crystal and that with the personal side spoke to me.”
The out performer closes the show with his unique duo trapeze piece over the ice. His performance is the show’s marquee act today when it was just 10 years ago that he had his first show with Cirque.
In the beginning though, the 40-something started out his career away from the stage.
“After I finished school I moved to Montreal and created wigs for shows and ultimately Cirque,” he said. “I fell in love with all the backstage action of the performers. So I auditioned for circus school and decided to change my path.”
As a performer, Blais felt more comfortable with acrobatics and movement. But also, the big city and the flourish of circus life appealed to the young gay kid from the Canadian countryside. He felt hairstyling wasn’t all he could do. So he proved it.
He finished his circus education and officially joined Cirque du Soleil as a performer. A decade later, he’s a headliner.
“I wanted to try everything and tell stories,” he said. “My story not only highlights the diversity and inclusivity within the entertainment industry but also underscores the importance of embracing individuality.”
When he was in his teens, Blais initially thought what many parents might have said about his sexual orientation — that he was going through a phase. He said he was looking for himself both artistically and personally. At the same time, during his high school years, he was being bullied. Growing up in a remote area, Blais was challenged with finding resources that he could cling onto for information or perspectives.
That helps fuel his work now as an out and proud performer. He’s looking to offer representation to that young person living in a cultural desert.
“I try to have that voice for the community that I wish I could have found as a young kid,” he said. “It’s important for us to stick out where we can and show all the colors of the rainbow.”
For Blais, that’s finding a balance in his performance. There is the pattern of hetero-pairing his performances which he knows is part of the bigger picture. But he will bring his queerness into his performances where he can.
“There are those more hetero approaches, but I know I’m still putting my voice into that. When I’m solo, I can and do play more with my queerness in the role. But also, I’m never trying to be myself onstage.
“I try to use my own vocabulary which gives me the freedom to approach my roles any way I want,” he said.
Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal plays in Frisco at Comerica Center Feb. 7-11 and then in Fort Worth at Dickies Arena Feb. 15-18.