Zumanity , by Cirque du Soleil

"The more I worked with projections, the more my whole art world just expanded. Every technical challenge opened me up to so many ideas. It's been tough, but so interesting in the end." 
-Natacha Merritt 


Merritt spent hours, days and weeks with the performers before shooting a single image. Instead, she observed them at rest and in motion, on stage and off. She worked with them, interviewing them in depth to explore their limits and gain their trust. Only when she had created the rapport she was seeking did she pick up her digital cameras and start shooting in the neutral territory of hotel rooms, rather than a studio. 

 ©Natacha Merritt,for Cirque du Soleil

©Natacha Merritt,for Cirque du Soleil


Her subjects were rarely asked to do anything they do in the show. They weren't usually in costume, nor were they wearing stage makeup. "It was more about discovering something emotional, erotic, sexy in them," explains Merritt. "I wasn't interested in asking them to do something that wasn't them. I was only interested in shooting something that came from their heart. When they saw the first results and liked what they saw, we established a good relationship." 

Merritt accumulated a lot of pictures and selected them for the show afterward, rather than working to a predetermined agenda. She then layered each image with two or three others to create movie files to be projected onto 'The Waves,' two large multifaceted set elements that are in constant motion at the back of the stage. The result is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of faces, arms, legs, lips and torsos woven into a hypnotic collage that keeps time with the music and matches rhythm with the actions and contortions of the performers.