There's a memorable scene in 1977's Annie Hall in which Woody Allen says "Those who can't do...teach. And those who can't teach...teach gym." In the acrobatic world of Cirque du Soleil, that statement couldn't be further from the truth.
Behind the curtain of every Cirque show is an army of skilled technicians and a highly trained supporting cast. Step further back to discover a collection of individuals who work as a team to make the magic possible.
One such person is Kim Scott, Senior Manager of Sourcing and Partnerships for Cirque du Soleil Resident Division. Working from an impressive headquarters in western Las Vegas, Kim serves many key roles.
“I am responsible for ensuring the continued sourcing of qualified technicians to support our upcoming creations and current productions. I am also responsible for maintaining our position in the industry as a leader in live entertainment safety standards, and position(ing) Cirque du Soleil as an employer of choice.”
With a background in performance, the dynamic Ms. Scott knows all too well the importance of those matters. She started out as a gymnast before transitioning into dance and musical theater. Her small Nebraska farming community didn't provide many opportunities to hone those abilities, but her parents sacrificed to make it happen.
“My parents weren't academics...my father had an eighth-grade education. But they wanted my three brothers and me to have better opportunities. After getting my undergraduate degree at University of Nebraska, I earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance at University of California-Irvine. My parents would jokingly ask, ‘When are you finally going to graduate?’”
Ironically, it was an offer to teach at UNLV that brought Kim here twenty years ago. Moonlighting at MGM Resort's New York New York evolved into taking over their Human Resources Training. And that brought her into the fold of Cirque du Soleil when resident production Zumanity was introduced.
Knowing the world of performance from both sides gives Kim a unique advantage at Cirque. Her exuberant (and admittedly quirky) personality, passion for education and ambition are limitless. On the day that we met her office, she was zipping around despite wearing a walking cast.
Still active in athletics, Kim injured her foot in February, but admits to being too strong-willed to let it slow her down. "I'm stubborn...even though my body doesn't respond like it used to when I was a young dancer. But we won't talk about age," she joked.
Now in her twelfth year at Cirque, Ms. Scott has held many positions within the Quebec-based company.
“I started my career in 2006 as the Training Manager, served as Director of Show Support and then as Company Manager for three of our productions (BeLIEve, Beatles LOVE and KA). It has been an amazing journey. I wouldn’t change a moment of it all!”
Overseeing such massive productions would undoubtedly offer a wealth of unforgettable moments, so I asked Kim if there were any that she's particularly proud of. Her answer?
“The university outreach program. I established it over 10 years ago, and feel it is the pinnacle of our company’s support of the next generation of talent. I travel regularly to guest lecture at universities across the United States, and serve as the Treasurer of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Being a leader in this non profit is something that rejuvenates me.”
The day after our conversation, Kim would be heading back to her Irvine alma mater to conduct a lecture. She's a frequent speaker at campuses around the nation, and delights in sharing opportunities for future performers and technicians through educational outreach. As for why she believes that their seven resident shows are such a success, Kim's response reflected a great deal of pride in her employer:
“Because the impossible, becomes possible. Our mission is to invoke, provoke and evoke. In a time of instant access to the world through your mobile device of choice, we take you on a journey where you can disconnect from the day to day.”
Taking the lead from her parents, this mother of two understands the importance of career. Yet she makes the most of personal time, and is enormously proud of her husband for his support:
“My free time is with my boys, either traveling to rugby games or lacrosse tournaments. Luc is a cadet 3rd class at the United States Air Force Academy, and is on the Varsity Rugby team. Matthew is in the ASTEM program at Clark High School, and is a member of the Vegas Starz lacrosse team. On those rare occasions we have a weekend off, you will find me with my family on our boat at Lake Mead, fishing.”
“My husband Michael is an electrician with the city of Las Vegas. He has been the backbone of supporting our family, making sure he was there to fill in when I needed to travel to Macau, Japan or wherever the circus sent me! I couldn't have done it without him.”
Kim Scott is currently at work on a new Las Vegas production for LUXOR Hotel Casino.