In Cirque du Soleil's extravaganza Corteo, a clown envisions his own funeral. Although the show meditates on death, being part of it is a joy for David Lieder Resnick, who started doing gymnastics 30 to 40 hours a week when he was 6 years old and is featured in two acts of Corteo, titled Bouncing Beds and Tournik.

"It's about humanity, it's about emotion," Lieder Resnick says. "One of the most beautiful things about Corteo is that no one is acting. If you were to meet all of us in real life, we're not far from what you see onstage."

WW spoke to Lieder Resnick about how he left school to become involved with Cirque du Soleil, the elaborate visuals of Corteo, and the demands of participating in a performance that is both fanciful and physical.
WW: I read that you got the call letting you know Cirque du Soleil was interested in you when you were in a geography class. How has your life changed since then?

David Lieder Resnick: I told them right then and there on the phone I was good to go, no question. When I went back into the class, I had a really invincible, superhero feeling. I just grabbed my backpack, put my stuff away and shook my professor's hand. And then I went to the dean's office, asked for my money back and told him I was withdrawing and moving on to performing. It was pretty surreal.
What's your role in Tournik?

The show is about Mauro, a clown, and his funeral procession. It's about him revisiting his whole life—all of his gypsy circus friends, his loves, his memories of childhood. Tournik is the finale. The act is basically a celebration for Mauro and it's his farewell. It features 10 guys and six bars. There are four bars in a cube with two bars laterally on the outside parallel to the cube. We have everything from a solo, where there's one guy on a bar to 10 guys spread out between all six bars. It's not work, really. It's just having fun.
Could you describe one of your costumes?

For Tournik, the first thing we put on is a full-body leotard. It's basically these long, white cotton tights that connect to a beautiful collared shirt. We also have a tie we wear that clips onto the buttons of the shirt so it doesn't fly up and hit us in the face.
It sounds like they want you to bring your personality and emotional state into the show.

Daniele Finzi Pasca, the director and creator of Corteo, would always talk about "spice." He says, "Just be yourself with some spice."
Is that hard if there's a day when you're rehearsing and feeling down?

Before the show starts, I always take five minutes for myself within 10 minutes of the show starting. I usually take six deep breaths backstage and I think about who I am. I think about characters and the transition from being in the dark to stepping into the light, which is the stage.

If I go out there and I'm anything less than what I should be, people can see it, they can feel it. They're not stupid. We're not hiding behind any elaborate makeup. The story is very linear and easy for people to follow. That's why the audience can see when something isn't real. So that's enough motivation for me.

SEE IT: Corteo plays at Moda Center, 1 N Center Court St., cirquedusoleil.com. 7:30 pm Thursday, 3:30 and 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 1 and 5 pm Sunday, March 14-17. $57-$145.