Executive Creative Director Brian Burke tells about working with Celine Dion, following your dreams, and elevating the World of WearableArt to a level ‘Beyond’.
Never heard the name, Brian Burke? Well, you will certainly know the many a-listers who hire him. He was the Artistic Director of Las Vegas Resident shows Celine Dion – A New Day, which became the highest-grossing residency of all time, and Le Rêve – The Dream, which won Best Production Show for nine consecutive years. His worldwide stadium, arena, and festival tours include Pitbull, Westlife, and Il Divo among others, is the creative producer of America’s Got Talent, and co-executive producer of American Idol.
Now Brian is bringing all that talent and experience to the spectacle that will be the 2023 World Of WearableArt (WOW) Show: Beyond from Wednesday 20 September to Sunday 8 October in Wellington.
From Las Vegas to Pōneke, what drew you to work with WOW?
I fell in love with the entire concept of WOW and always had a clear vision of how this could develop with the incredibly creative people involved in Aotearoa. The entire team is incredible. The passion people have for this show and wanting to develop the experience, was a key factor.
What is your style as a Creative Director?
I worked directly with (legendary Circus producer) Franco Dragone for 15 years, so my creative style is very much influenced by everything he taught me, and the freedom he allowed, to bring my own vision to each show. I am very influenced by visual storytelling, music, and human performance. Most important is the spectator experience and producing a visual and emotional journey you will always remember.
What can you tell us about the 2023 WOW Show: BEYOND?
The idea is to go on a journey to worlds beyond your imagination. The concept of ‘Mars and Beyond’ has really inspired the entire production. Human curiosity to explore and discover worlds beyond what anyone has ever seen. We wanted to bring that journey to life and give the garments very special worlds to thrive in, and for the first time ever, the theme is infused into all aspects of the WOW experience.
You started your showbiz career as the first ever tap dancer to represent the USA on the global stage. What advice do you have for young performers looking for their big break?
Follow your dreams but do not expect anything to be handed to you. You must work very hard, try everything, and push yourself to work in all areas of the industry with everyone you can… Your creative passions will evolve and change as you learn about yourself but you will never stop learning from the people around you if you are open and collaborative.
You’ve worked on shows with some of the biggest names in entertainment. Any memorable stories you can share?
[On one show] a certain artist kept asking people’s opinions on an outfit for a flying sequence. Everyone around them was saying it looked great. At times people around artists fear for their jobs and just want to please them, but it looked terrible! So I said, “You can fire me but I think we should get something that works better for you.” They were so relieved, and said, “Thank you, I’ve been waiting for someone to be honest with me all day!”
Outside of the 2023 WOW Show: Beyond, what else are you working on?
I am currently producing the live shows for American Idol in Hollywood while creating Lionel Richie’s upcoming tour, Las Vegas residency, and performance at The Coronation of King Charles!
Why should every Express reader buy a ticket to WOW?
Every year this show is completely unique, so even if you have been before, come experience a little Las Vegas in Wellington!
Photos | 2022 World or WearableArt Show, images courtesy of World or WearableArt Ltd.