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Uniting her love of theatre, gymnastics just what Cirque's Erica Linz was looking for

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Erica LINZ acknowledges it doesn't hurt to make her big-screen movie debut just a year after the release of a little movie called The Artist.

After all, there is a certain congruence. Granted, Linz's movie, Cirque du soleil: Worlds Away is not in black and white. Indeed, it is being presented in colourful 3D and in IMAX format, overseen by none other than producer James Cameron (Avatar). (In Winnipeg, it will screen solely at the Cineplex Odeon McGillivray starting Friday.)

The common denominator is that both movies don't invest in much in the way of dialogue. And that certainly didn't hurt Artist actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, who were both nominated for acting Oscars for their work. (Dujardin won.)

Worlds Away tells the story of two lovers who, upon finding each other at a travelling carnival, are separated and must negotiate through all manner of surreal circus realms to be reunited.

"When the concept (of Worlds Away) was initially tossed around and we started making it, there was a great concern about the lack of dialogue and whether the audience would be willing to go on this adventure with us without a verbal narrative," Linz says on the phone from Cirque headquarters in Montreal.

"But as it's been released, it seems it's not been an obstacle at all," she says. "With the Cirque du soleil universe, these spectacular feats of athleticism, put together with this love story with these new characters who have been developed for the film, it really is a story that doesn't need dialogue to be told.

"And I personally find that really refreshing."

Linz is a 10-year veteran of the Cirque, joining at the age of 19 when she was just out of high school in her hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo. The petite beauty (she's four-foot-11) took to gymnastics before she turned four, but also found herself attracted to more conventional theatre as a teen.

"I did a lot of Shakespeare and musical theatre growing up," she says. She has adapted her acting style after a decade at the Cirque, with exaggerated movements that can play in the Cirque's often arena-sized performance venues.

"An indication that your character may have heard something would be delivered to the audience (in a way) that would include your fingers and your toes and you would turn your shoulders and that kind of thing.," she says, explaining how she was forced to adapt to the film format.

"Suddenly you're with James Cameron staring at a camera and everything needs to be diminished and just made incredibly subtle in comparison," she says. "And sometimes that's a hard habit to break out of."

She found the transition ultimately rewarding.

"I would love to do more film and more kind of straight acting," she says. "This felt very much like a return to theatre.

"There was something theatre lacked that I got out of gymnastics, and I preferred performance to competition, which is what I loved about theatre," she says. "It took Cirque du soleil to combine the things I loved growing up."


Cirque du soleil: Worlds Away

Cineplex Odeon McGillivray

Opens Dec. 21

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2012 C6

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