Glittering lights, breath-taking performances and edge of your seat acrobatics: Cirque de Soleil is the crowning jewel in the circus world. It’s exciting enough watching trapeze artists, lion tamers and jugglers, but what’s it really like being part of the circus? We chat to Katie Smith, an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère, who shines a spotlight on life in the ring.
How did you become an acrobatic circus performer?
I’ve been an acrobatic gymnast from the age of six. I always loved the excitement and adrenalin I experienced at competitions and wondered what it would be like to turn gymnastics into a career. When Cirque du Soleil contacted me to be a part of one of its touring shows in 2011, I decided it would be a great way to start my performing career.
How did you get involved with Cirque du Soleil?
My coach from gymnastics was contacted by one of the casting crew for my first Cirque du Soleil show – Ovo. He put me forward for a position as a flyer – where I’m launched high into the air by another artist, or a piece, and I perform somersaults, flips or twists before being caught again.
I sent videos of my competitions to the Cirque casting team and they offered me a contract. For Mystère by Cirque du Soleil, I was contacted directly by casting from my online Cirque profile followed by a Skype interview. About a month later, they offered me a contract!
What training (acrobatic/artistic) did you have to do before getting to perform on stage with Cirque?
I first started training in Montreal at the Cirque du Soleil headquarters. I began acrobatic training, choreography classes, acting classes and make-up classes. Once I began touring, the same training continued but became more specific to the show I was going to be in.
What is the best part of performing with Cirque?
I love watching and hearing the reactions of the audience. I still love the feeling of excitement and adrenalin I get while on stage – it’s the same feeling that I had back when I was competing.
At times, the pace and schedule can feel quite hectic. The show performs twice a night, five nights a week – that’s ten shows in total. But again, to do what I love every night and experience the energy I receive from audiences makes it all worth it.
What advice do you have for young people aspiring to get into acrobatic performing?
Keep working hard and don’t give up. It’s a great career to have and it’s an amazing opportunity to travel the world doing something you love.
Eager to pack your bags and run away tot he circus? For tickets and more information on the show visit cirquedusoleil.com/mystere.