There’s no doubt about it – Cirque du Soleil is an unprecedented game changer – in entertainment, in artistry and in sheer human feat.
If you’re one of the 155 million spectators who have experienced a show before, you’ll know the feeling – sitting on the edge of your seat, heart thumping wildly, eyes awestruck, as you witness something you’ve never seen before; something you’ve never imagined humanly possible in the realms of strength, skill and flexibility. You’ll be rendered speechless; utterly eclipsed.
Cirque du Soleil is well travelled – having performed in more than 300 cities in over 40 countries, on 6 continents. In 2015 alone, Cirque du Soleil will present 19 different shows around the world.
For the wayfarer cast – life on the road, and the Grand Chapiteau as a compass and only real solid constant – is a way of life.
But… what does it feel like to run away with the circus – for real?
I had the chance to step backstage and peek into circus life behind the curtain – and spend 15 minutes with the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s TOTEM – currently performing in Adelaide, Australia – with next stop Perth.
Meet Francis Jalbert, TOTEM publicist and modern gypsy – and Sarah Tessier and Guilhem Cauchois, who perform The Lovebirds Fixed Trapeze Duo.
Is there ever such a thing as a typical day in the life of you?
Sarah: Yes! Well, there’s a typical work day – where we will wake up late. We start much later than an average person, because we work much later than an average person. We’ll come in – and work out, warm up and we’ll do our makeup – and then have the show.
Home must feel like everywhere and nowhere for you – but where do you call home, and what does home mean to you?
Guilhem: Here (the big top) – right here is home. It’s always the same here. When you travel, hotels are all different and each city is always different, but this place, it’s always the same.
Sarah: And the people we travel with are home as well – more than this place, even.
Francis: We’ve all got our secret winks with each other – and we know without words when somebody is feeling good or bad. Like brothers or sisters, we are always with each other, so we’re definitely family and home for each other.
Beyond Cirque du Soleil, who are you? What is your raison d’etre? (your purpose, or reason to be)?
Sarah: There is a life beyond Cirque du Soleil, but right at the moment, this is the biggest thing in our life, for sure. This job becomes your lifestyle as well. Cirque du Soleil is huge and it takes a lot of time, but this is what we studied to do. For a circus artist, the gypsy lifestyle is part of the deal.
Francis: Right now, this is our life, but it’s our job too – we’re here because we’re working. Cirque du Soleil has shaped who we’ve become and evolved as adults. We all joined about the same time at the beginning of our twenties, and on the road we’re dealing with many cultures and absence of stability and so many different concepts you would not have to deal with if you were staying at home and graduating from university.
Favourite destination you’ve toured to – ever?
Guilhem:I really enjoyed working in New York, for sure!
Francis: For me, working in a big city is always an experience – Working in Sydney was amazing – there’s a vibe and lifestyle that you don’t find anywhere else.
If you were to hop on any plane tomorrow, where would you go?
Francis: Rio! (you can come too if you want!)
What are the necessities that join you in your travels?
Sarah: A phone – what would we do without our phones? It’s our only way to keep in touch with our family. And maps – every time you get to a new city, you’re starting over – so maps are essential to find where to eat, and where to get a haircut.
Guilhem: The internet is definitely something you need to carry with you all the time. For me, I need incense. Because with the constant change – of apartments and cities, incense always smells the same, and it feels like home.
Francis: My phone and my music – listening to music is very important – and I carry some photos.
Sarah: and a frying pan! I mean, if you want to cook eggs, you need a frying pan!
Where do you go next?
Guilhem – Bali for a short break, then onto Perth – and then we tour Japan.
What would you tell your five year-ago self?
Guilhem – That everything is going to be great, so enjoy life more! Don’t be afraid – be trustful – enjoy what you’re doing right now.
Sarah – Be open to experiences.
Francis – Every opportunity you have to travel, or do a road trip, or escape – take it! Keep working hard, be passionate… and try to laugh every day!
What would be your advice to WoW readers, for travelling and/or following their big dream?
Francis: Just follow them! And know that sometimes, great things come from mistakes and accidents. Make people aware of what your dreams are, and speak out.
Sarah: Travel more. At first it’s scary, but travel becomes much more comfortable and less scary the more you do it – you learn to enjoy it so much more.
Guilhem: Pay attention to what interests you and to what feeds you – when you go to a new city, seek out those things.
Thank you Francis, Sarah and Guilhem for this insight into your world!
Over to you! What’s one thing you always take on your travels? Would you run away with the circus?