Grayslake native living his 'inspiration' as Cirque du Soleil performer
Getting cast in Cirque du Soleil's "Volta" has been a dream come true for Kevin Beverley. And the Grayslake native is especially excited to perform for a hometown crowd when the 2017 touring big-top show makes its Chicago debut this weekend on the grounds of Soldier Field.
"I feel blessed," said Beverley during a March interview at his high school alma mater, the Chicago Academy for the Arts. "This was exactly what I wanted to do."
Growing up, Beverley performed for nearly a decade as a member of local competitive dance troupes. When he transferred from Grayslake Central High School to the academy in 2006, he had to readjust his focus to concert dance, which was less about tricks and more about technique and sheer artistry.
He found the perfect mix of his interests when he saw the Canadian TV documentary miniseries "Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within," which was tied to the creation of the 2002 show "Varekai."
"It completely changed my brain," Beverley said. "It had dance, it had theater, it had acrobatics -- it had all these different kind of things and apparatuses coming together to make one show and I was blown away."
After taking circus classes at The Actors Gymnasium in Evanston and graduating from the Chicago Academy for the Arts in 2008, Beverley headed to Montreal to attend the National Circus School. He majored in dance trapeze and minored in hoop diving, the latter of which is his main showcase in "Volta."
"I like being multidisciplinary," said Beverley, adding that in "Volta" he also understudies the dancing role of the main character "Waz."
"At the end, there's a three-minute contemporary dance, which is very unknown for Cirque du Soleil with just one dancer and two backup singers," Beverley said. "I get to mix my acrobatic background with my dance background and put them together for an 'acro-dance' solo."
In creating "Volta," writer/director Bastien Alexandre and director of creation Jean Guibert initially focused on urban extreme sports. Beverley said a strong message about self-acceptance and learning to love yourself was also folded into the show.
"They wanted to try something new," Beverley said. "It shows the extremes of BMX and other extreme sports, but at the same time it's very beautiful with dance."
"Volta" features an original score by Anthony Gonzalez, who is part of the electronica group M83. Beverly says it's his personal favorite of all the Cirque du Soleil shows he's heard, though he admits to being biased since he's in "Volta."
Beverley still has plenty of family and friends in the Chicago area, so he's happy that they won't have to travel too far to see him perform in "Volta."
"Leaving the city to go chase my dream to become a circus artist and to come back to Chicago to share it with my people -- that's unbelievable," Beverley said. "(Cirque du Soleil) was my original inspiration and I'm living that inspiration."
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Cirque du Soleil's "Volta"
Location: Soldier Field South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, (877) 924-7783 or cirquedusoleil.com/volta
Showtimes: Various performances from Saturday, May 18, through Saturday, July 6