If you enjoyed our behind the scenes look at Cirque de Soleil’s production of KOOZA, then you are going to love artiste Vedra Chandler’s exclusive Day in the Life for LLG!
Vedra is a singer and dancer from Camden, New Jersey. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in Government, Vedra pursued a career in business while dancing for Bon Joviʼs Philadelphia Soul arena football team. In 2005 her heart led her away from corporate America and on to the open road with the touring company of the hit Broadway Musical, “Hairspray!”
From there she went on to perform in multiple theater projects around the world including productions of Aida, All Shook Up!, High School Musical and the national tour of The Wizard of Oz. In 2010 she ran away with the circus to perform the role of the Soul Singer on Kooza by Cirque Du Soleil. Vedra remains a member of The National Association of Negro Musicians and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Vedra is thrilled to be currently performing with Kooza at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall. The opportunity to sing in such a space is a dream come true.
Over to you Vedra:
10:30am: My alarm goes off. This sounds like a late start, but I work at night and 8 hours of sleep is essential to a good day and a good show. I silence my alarm and open my curtains to let the sunlight in. Then drink some water and crawl back into bed for 15 mins! It’s the best feeling and the sunlight makes the transition from sleep to awake more natural and less jarring.
10:45am: Sun Salutations in the living room get the blood and the energy flowing.
11:15am: I eat a breakfast of black coffee, plain yogurt, granola and blueberries and check emails and Facebook for news and birthdays.
11:40am I break out my speakers and warm up my voice in the shower. Today I choose the “25 Most Played” playlist which presents a nice mix of personal favorites, as well as songs I will be singing in the show tonight. Good tunes and a steamy bathroom make for a productive and uplifting vocal exercise. After my shower I switch to a podcast, usually a Ted Talk or US News. I like “The Wall Street Journal This Morning” with Gordon Deal.
12:50pm: I’m dressed and off to the Tube for the ride to The Royal Albert Hall. On the tube I usually read something on the awesome E-reader my mom bought me for Christmas. I just finished this month’s Vogue, so I’m on to The Economist to catch up on what’s happening with the Euro. We’ve been touring Europe for two years, but I get paid in American Dollars, so I care about the future of the exchange rate, among other things.
1:45pm: I sit at my table to start my make-up. I check in with my cast mates, get the skinny from the trapeze artist on her date last night, and my fellow singer on the status of our colds. An inconvenience for some, a cold is a nightmare for a singer and we’ve both been struggling with one this week. We exchange updates and tips on what has been working (neti-pot) and what hasn’t (most meds) before heading to sound check.
2pm: Sound Check. The director wants to try a new musical exit to the clown act. The band leader talks us through the changes, we exchange ideas, and rehearse it a couple of times before playing it for the director. He loves what we’ve done. We do another song just to warm up and by…
2:20pm: I’m back at my table to finish make-up. One of the girls has a YouTube video she wants us to watch that relates to today’s conversation which is about…men, of course 🙂 We all gather around an iPhone and giggle as Jimmy Fallon discovers he blew a chance to date Nicole Kidman years ago. So funny and cute.
3:15pm: I have just enough time for a quick lunch of salmon, sprouts, sautéed cabbage and green salad before the show. Catering at Cirque and at the Royal Albert Hall is amazing. We tour with a full time kitchen staff that caters to our every nutritional and sophisticated culinary needs. The healthy and delicious meals they prepare fuel each of us acrobats, musicians, and technicians to produce the sparkling circus spectacular that starts in 15 minutes!!!!
3:30pm: Show 1 Act 1. It’s difficult singing with a cold. I sometimes don’t recognize my own voice. But colds are a part of a singers’ life and the show must go on. Act I goes smoothly. No more details here…you need to see it to believe it anyway.
5pm: Intermission. A banana and a quick chat with a friend about our nieces and how kids have such alarmingly unique personality’s right from birth. I’m always amazed at what kinds of conversations we ladies can manage in the space of 20 minutes. Before we can finish our conversation my dresser arrives to help me into my costume. And we’re back…
Act II: I have 2 solos in act II, so I’m switched on, and ready to sing. The acts are looking great this show. All of the acrobats are hitting their tricks and I’m inspired to sing a little better, hold notes a little longer, and do what I can to highlight the super-human feats being performed by my friends below.
6pm: Between shows we have a 2 hour break. Today it kicks off with a little dressing room drama. Two women are having a disagreement loud enough for all of us to hear. I’m friends with both and once things have cooled down I decide to speak to each separately.
Peace in the dressing room is important to me. We can’t all get along all of the time, but when things are relaxed and everyone feels comfortable the atmosphere in this room of talented, beautiful, professional performers is so rich with love and learning and support. After 5 years on this show I’ve experienced enough change in dressing room dynamics to appreciate the peace times and fight for them.
6:30pm: Post drama, I squeeze in a 30 minute session with one of our resident physio therapists. He’s showing me exercises to help strengthen my back and improve my flexibility. Afterwards I skip rope for 10 minutes and then head to dinner…Mexican. Yum
8:00pm: Second show. Our 6th show of the week. It’s better than the first with an enthusiastic Friday night crowd and a somewhat weary, yet willing group of artists and technicians prepared to knock their socks off.
10:30pm: I take off my makeup and change back into street clothes for the trip home on the tube. On the platform at South Kensington station I stand with co-workers and spot people around us carrying Cirque du Soleil bags and programs. They look like they enjoyed the show, and for this we are grateful and proud.
11:30pm: I’m on the couch with a cup of tea and a shot of whisky…for my cold, obviously. I prepare a snack of broccoli and hummus for me and my roommate and we settle in to watch the Backstreet Boys documentary which was released that day. Throughout the film we share stories about growing up listening to their music and learning their dances from MTV. As professionals in entertainment we make parallels between their journeys and our own, and are excited when my roommate sees not one, but two people in the film with whom she’s worked in the past. The world is small and the industry is a closet.
2:30am: Teeth are brushed. Humidifier is switched on. Curtains are closed. Twitter and Facebook have been checked and I’m in bed ready to drift off to dreamland.
For more information please visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza