Our guest today: Anny Laplante
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This week on Feisworld, we are joined by a lovely young lady named Anny Laplante.
Anny is a “flyer” currently performing with Circus 1903 in a breathtaking act called Russian Cradle Duo.
Russian Cradle Duo is a famously known circus act, where the aerialist being propelled is referred to as a “flyer” (that’s Anny), while the one doing the tossing and catching is referred to as a “carrier” (or “catcher”). The flyer usually starts and ends by standing on the frame above the catcher. The flyer then swings holding on to the catcher’s hands, performs releases at the top of the swing, and is re-caught in mid-air.
There are many technical aspects in terms of the strength and speed required for the tossing and throwing to be possible. Needless to say that this act is very challenging and dangerous.
I was covered with tears when I first watched Anny perform in one of my favorite Cirque du Soleil show called KURIOS. I cried again the second and third time. Anny’s act felt vulnerable, pure, and brave. In our conversation today, we’ll take you inside the circus world and beyond.
- How is Anny enjoying her performance in Circus 1903 and how does that compare to her other shows with Cirque du Soleil?
- What is the creation process like? What are the most challenging part of rehearing an act?
- For those of you who are interested in pursing a career in cirque, or know someone who does, this episode is going to help answer many of those questions. From working on the road, packing strategically so your life can fit in a suitcase for months, I had a blast and quite a few laughs with Anny, who’s an absolute pleasure to chat with.
- We’ll take you to Anny’s origin where she began her training as a circus artist. The National Circus School is located in the city of Montreal (Anny’s hometown). Anny enrolled as a high school student there at the age of 14 and continued her study through college.
To learn more about Anny Laplante, visit her website at: http://www.throwings.ca/
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- [07:30] You are touring with 1903 since December 2016, how has the experience been for you?
- [08:30] What did you and your husband (Anny’s partner in the act) have to change for the 1903 show, in terms of your routine/performance?
- [09:30] You were part of the creation/design process for the 1903 show, did you enjoy that?
- [10:30] You’ve been performing successfully before the current show, such as touring with Cirque du Soleil. How were you identified to take part in Circus 1903 and how was that transition for you?
- [11:30] Tell us a little bit about your acts on TV shows.
- [14:30] Could you tell us some of the differences on how you approach your act today versus your very first performances, given that it is quite risky? Did you get over fear and anxiety? What was the main factor behind that?
- [15:30] How long ago did you start rehearsing the act you are performing today?
- [16:30] How did you meet your husband and started working together?
- [20:00] Tell us about your origin story and your experience at the circus school in Montreal.
- [21:30] Was your path/career similar to one of average circus performer? Did you start training at the usual age or sooner/later? How long have you been training?
- [23:00] How was your contact with people all over the world. Is the school international?
- [24:00] You are in constant travel. Did you international experience at the circus school help you to be prepared for that?
- [25:00] What were some of your favorite subjects at school?
- [29:00] You mentioned that you fell a few times. How do you typically fall, what kind of injuries did you have and how do you try to avoid them?
- [31:00] You broke your spine in one of your accidents, how long did it take to heal?
- [33:00] Did you ever consider quitting, when you realized that training was too intense and risk is too high?
- [35:00] How did your parents react when they watched you perform for the first time?
- [40:00] Tell us a little bit about your day, what’s your daily routine?
- [41:00] How long before a show do you have to be backstage?
- [42:00] Do you prefer circus at a theatre or tent?
- [45:00] What’s your diet and how do you keep yourself healthy?
- [47:00] What kind of supplements do you take?
- [48:00] When you travel, what’s your packing strategy? And how does your current strategy compare to when you started your career as a circus artist?
- [50:00] Do you miss your family a lot? How much time do you spend on the road?
- [51:00] Do you have the chance to go out (and do other things) during tours?
[23:00] There are so many cultures that it is so easy to be like a family. You have people all around the world, you learn from other people and they learn from yours. It’s so fun.
[26:00] I really struggle to find my way and find what I was meant to do. After that, my coach just made me try this Russian Cradle. I started practicing and I was surprised I was good at it. The challenge was given to me to break the fear of doing so incredible things. […] I just fell in love with it, it’s so enjoyable.
[29:00] When you go for it, there will be hard times in everything you do. It can never be easy, because if it’d be easy everybody would do it.
[34:00] When I think myself when I was 14 years old and I that my dream was to be a circus artist, to see where I am today and know all the hard work I did all these years, I’m so lucky and I’m really happy because it’s not everybody that can do what they love in life.
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Transcript of Interview with Anny Laplante
Welcome to the Faceworld podcast, engaging conversations that cross the boundaries between business, art and the digital world.
It’s so easy to be, like, a family because you have people all around the world, and we learn from other people things, and it’s so fun.
I really struggled to find my way through and what I was made to do, you know. And after my coach just made me try this Russian cradle, I started to practice it, and the challenge it was giving me to break the fear of doing things was so incredible. I just fell in love with it.
Yeah, there will be hard times in everything you do. It’s never easy because if it would have been easy, everybody would do it. And I think, I saw my way and myself into Russian cradle because it just challenged me and I love it.
My dream has always been to be a circus artist, so to know where I am today and all the work I did all this year, I feel lucky and I’m really happy because not everybody can do what they love in life.
Fei Wu 2:24
Hi guys. It’s Fei, your host for the Feisworld podcast, and I’m back for yet another episode this week with a lovely young lady named Anny Laplante. She is currently performing with Circus 1903 in a breathtaking act called “Russian cradle duo”. Russian cradle duo is a famously known circus act where the aerialist being propelled is referred to as a “flyer”, and that is Anny. While the one doing the tossing and catching is referred to as “the carrier” or “the catcher” and that her husband, in real life. The fire usually starts and ends standing on the frame above the catcher, then the fire swings, holding on to the catcher’s hands, perform releases at the top of the swing and is recaught in midair. There are many technical aspects of this act I will leave out for now. But you can google them fairly easily in terms of the strength and speed required for the tossing and throwing to be possible. Needless to say that this act is very challenging and dangerous. I was covered with tears when I first watched Anny perform in one of my favorite Cirque du Soleil shows called “Kurious”. I cried again the second and third time. Anny’s act felt vulnerable, pure and so brave. In our conversation today we will take you inside the circus world and beyond. So how is Anny enjoying her performance is an aerialist in Circus 1903 and how does that compare to her other shows with Cirque du Soleil? What is the creation process like? What are the most challenging parts of rehearsing an act? For those of you who are interested in pursuing a career in Cirque or know someone who does, this episode is going to help answer many, if not all the questions from working on the road, packing strategically so your life can fit literally inside a suitcase for months. I had a blast and quite a few laughs with Anny, who is an absolute pleasure to chat with. If you are not so convinced yet that this is a magical episode – well, we’ll take you to Anny’s origin and where she began her training as a Montreal native. Anny was so lucky to have grown up in the city, the most ideal city in the world to become a circus artist. National circus school is located in the heart of Montreal, where Anny received her high school and college degrees. Let’s talk about the circus school for a second. When it comes to the technical courses, we’re talking about physical conditioning, dancing, acting, voice, music performance and creation, as well as basic and more advanced techniques, such as aerials, acrobatics, balancing and manipulation. Some of the theory courses include circus history, applied anatomy, methodology, health, safety staging techniques and career management. Doesn’t it sound a bit like Harry Potter? If you enjoyed this episode, I would also highly recommend the one right before this with David Williamson, who happens to be the ringmaster of Circus 1903. As always, if you could tell one more person about Faceworld podcast, it will help us tremendously and spread our wings and fight even higher as a homegrown production company, sharing more and more stories from unsung heroes and self-made artists. Without further ado, please welcome Anny Laplante to the Faceworld podcast.
Fei Wu 6:26
I’m so glad to have you on the show. You are, so far, the fourth circus performer on Faceworld. And I’ve told you this in person, that I was so touched by your performance, I believe, first in “Kurious”, and most recently, in 1903, you have a lot of style and a lot of certainty to the way that you put the act together. So thank you so much for joining me.
You’re welcome. I really appreciate it.
Fei Wu 7:00
Yeah. So tell me a little bit about 1903, because that’s your current show right now. I know the show has been on a since the beginning for only seven months. And you guys have been performing together since December 2016. So how has that been like for you?
It was a bit crazy because we had a lot of TV show that we did, we had a lot of projects that were coming on the side. And we knew that the Circus 1903 was coming up, and we didn’t know what to expect about it, because it was a new show, new creation, and we created everything only in two weeks. So it was crazy. We were working every day from morning to night. And it was just rehearsing and rehearsing and building all the parts of the show. So yeah, two weeks to create such a big show, it was crazy. But right now we really enjoy it. You know, we do our act and we are able to be more comfortable with our performance every day that we perform.
Fei Wu 8:18
Wow. So two weeks that you’re working every single day, how long ago was that in 2016?
We created from the middle of November to the end of November, and after we started touring in Australia, and now we are in the US. So it was Australia plan and now the US until July 2017.
Fei Wu 8:41
So since you are an expert at this point with your husband for the Russian cradle together, what did you have to change or modify for 1903? What did you have to do differently for this show?
Our choreography is pretty much the same. But you know, all the story around it – it’s completely different. So it allowed us to play differently than what we used to play before. We are able to adapt our style to any kind of show right now. It’s more like a family show. So we cannot be as much essential that we would normally be. But you know, we adapt anyway to tell the story just in a different way.
Fei Wu 9:30
So seems like you are part of the creation process as well. And you’re not just an acrobat, but you are also creating the show. Do you enjoy that process?
Yeah, I think it’s very enjoyable because the show itself is really easy, like a story. And kids love it. You know, the kids are just crazy about it. So it’s fun to be able to play your own character in front of the public because there’s no restriction. They didn’t tell us “All you have to be this character”. And, you know, we are able to be ourselves. And this is more interesting as artists because you have liberty of being who you want to be on stage.
Fei Wu 10:15
Wow. So you mentioned a number of things about the beginning, and you two have been very successful with Cirque du Soleil. So how were you drafted or identified for the 1903 show? What was that transition like for you? Because you had a lot of good options presented to you.
We worked before with this company with a show called Lenoir, which we did three weeks only in New Zealand, and we already knew this company, we knew the people, the bosses and the production, so we already felt comfortable, and 1903 was a very good opportunity, because, it reminds us where circus come from, you know, and I think it was just like, that’s it. We said: yeah, why not. And when we arrived, and they showed us the costumes and the style, that was fun. And, you know, I had to do my air in a really old style. As for me, it was weird, you know, but I showed it to my mom. And she was like, oh, your grandma was doing this. So it just reminded of so much memory from the history of the circus.
Fei Wu 11:40
Wow, that definitely sounds like a lot of fun. You mentioned you were working on the TV show as well, tell me a little bit about that.
We did. We started with a TV show “America Got Talent”. So we did our performance and we got to the quarterfinals. And we’ve been cut from the TV show, but after that other TV show started to ask us to perform in “Italy Got Talent” and after in “Georgia Got Talent”. So everything was fun after that. Like, we just had so much experience with the TV shows. And now we are more comfortable to work on TV.
Fei Wu 12:25
That’s interesting. It is a lot of people. My listeners may not know that, but it’s very much a show, a TV show instead of a competition.
Yeah, it’s true.
Fei Wu 12:44
Yeah, there’s a lot of artistic talent involved, but also creating that TV drama and all that, you know what I mean.
Yeah, I mean, it was a bit difficult for us, because especially in “America Got Talent”, it is exactly what you say, it’s a TV show. So it was difficult to be just ourselves and do all we would normally do because they asked us to do something different. But now we know how they work. And now we don’t really worry about that, like, okay, let’s do it.
Fei Wu 13:23
Speaking of fear and feeling fear, being on the TV show, or the letdown of something that doesn’t necessarily happen. I have a tremendous amount of respect and also a curiosity for someone like yourself and all the performers alongside you. For the show, for Kurious and the act, which I’m going to incorporate in a little video on the blog posts that people get to see the different performances that you have, it’s a very scary one because, I think, I cried twice watching Kurios. It all looks really challenging and I know, in fact, it is challenging. Also, you are petite, and it’s indescribable that you are flipping, doing all this acrobatic ballet and there’s a combination of everything you’re trying to do in midair… Could you tell me about how you approach that act today versus when you were first introduced to it? How did it feel for you on stage, were you scared?
In the beginning, you know, of course, it’s very scary. You don’t know if you will have control of the movement of your body. Because the stress affects a lot the way you think or the way you react to some situations. And of course, when you have less experience, more danger can happen. Because I can make one decision, but my husband can make another thought. So with the time we really were able to feel each other, to know how to react to one mistake that we did and go, like, okay, we’re not going to do this mistake again. because something happened there. And it’s dangerous. And it’s a lot about just trust and trying to do the best sometimes. Even last week, something happened on stage. But our reaction was the same thought. So nothing happened. Of course, now I feel more confident because we did this routine many times. But sometimes we change some other things. And again, the stress comes back, but it’s just for a short period.
Fei Wu 15:42
Um, how long ago did you rehearse this act? Maybe, a version of it?
Yeah, we started to create our acts in 2015. At the end of 2015, we started to do some tricks together just to try. But yeah, it’s been two years that we perform with this act now. And still changing all the time. A little bit.
Fei Wu 16:07
Yeah, it’s so much fun. Because, you know, you can make decisions on the go. And I’ve seen the act multiple times, I’ve seen the difference and how you captivated the audience. So, how did you approach your husband? I mean, in this case, I want to refer to him as your partner in the act as well. Did he approach you, did you approach him, how did you two come together and start creating something so beautiful?
Uh, my husband was working with Cirque du Solei before me, and I joined four years after, in 2012. I joined a group with many girls and many guises. And Andrei was my training partner. So we were training every day, for an hour, just to get me used to fly with the group. And very quickly, two weeks after, we had this very strong chemistry of partnership, and it was so easy and enjoyable to train together. And we wanted more and more and that was like “What can we train tomorrow?” It was just so fun. And with the time we were able to train every day and try to just think about, okay, maybe it would be cool to have our own number and create something. So every day we were doing a little bit of training, and in the end, it just resulted in this act. But we worked a lot and we changed a lot of things, and we were filming each other, and being, like, no, I don’t like that, let’s change that. But all this takes a while to be a good final product.
Fei Wu 18:46
There are so many questions I wrote down. And one thing that intrigued me about your background, which is very different than others I’ve interviewed from circus, like, I interviewed both Atherton and twins from Paramour and Zarkana, so I noticed you are the only one so far who has gone through the National circus school or any circus school, whereas the other folks are mainly coming from a pure gymnastics background and discovered circus when there are 20-24 years old. But I need to know your origin stories, tell me everything about the circus school!
Yeah, when I was young – let’s go really bad – I was always doing some acrobatics in the garden and everything, and I wanted to take a lot, to do gymnastics, but it never happened. And at some point my parents decided, okay, let’s put her in gymnastics camp and see how it goes. And I started gymnastics at nine years old, and I finished that at 13 years old, because it was too much stress, too much pressure for a young person, to not be able to sleep at night and thinking of the competition of the next day. It was not healthy for me, and then I saw this advertisement about the National Circus School, and there was like open doors day to go see and visit. So I asked my mom to go, and we checked, and the school was just like amazing, my eyes were so big. I straight away knew I wanted to do that, and after I saw one Cirque du Soleil show with my friend, that’s was my dream. So I entered the circus school at 14 years old and I graduated at 20 years old. I stayed a long time there, I did my school program and then college program, all there, and it was crazy. I love this school and I can recommend it to anybody who wants to be a great artist. Because it’s so complete, you do acting class, dance class, you do everything. And this, I think, makes artist very complete. When you have so much, you know, baggage with you, it’s so much easier to go on the road of the circus after.
Fei Wu 21:29
I love that. So is that a typical path for someone your age to transition, to go through six years of training? Where do people start younger, older, typically?
Yeah, you have the opportunity to just go on the college program, which starts with three years of college. So you can just go there whenever you want when you have the age for it, and just do three years of complete formation. And then after graduation, go on the road for a circus. Or you can do the high school program in which you have classes and, you know, English, mathematics, all your program of school plus circus, too. I think it’s good for the kids. Because you have all afternoon activity, and in the morning you have school and classes. But it depends. I think people mostly go for the college program just for the three years program. But now the school starts to grow more and more because a lot of people want to get there. So I don’t know if it really depends on your age and your experience.
Fei Wu 22:39
So where are you from? Originally? Montreal? Oh, wow. So it’s kind of a very convenient location for you to fall in love with a circus act. And when you went to school, what was the international aspects of things? Did you see many kids from other countries or mostly from Montreal?
A lot of people come from everywhere around the world, there are people coming from Australia, there are people coming from Japan, like, it’s really international. From everywhere. There are so many cultures that it is so easy to be like a family because you have people all around the world. And we learned from other people things, and they learned from us, it’s so fun.
Fei Wu 23:28
I also happen to have gone to an international school when I first got to the United States, and I felt really comfortable as a result, it wasn’t me versus all the American kids. But there were all of us involved. Isn’t it interesting? Because now you travel around the world, like, literally all around the world. That experience from national circus school probably really helps with your travel experience with some degree.
Oh, for sure. For sure. Because also, you know, you get to know things from other people about countries, that makes it really easier, so when you go, you’re not surprised. You just already start to adapt from the school. And even like, I was 17 and my National Circus School did the exchange with the Australian Circus School for one month. And then, one month later, I came back, you know, with all this experience, it just makes so much baggage for you for the future.
Fei Wu 24:40
While I was looking at the list of classes that you’re taking, there’s juggling, there’s acting, stretching, there’s human anatomy, everything you’re learning there, what are some of your favorite subjects? And in school as well, what are some of the acts that you’re most interested in?
I always loved to be a flyer. It was my goal. Yeah, you know, so many people do that. And it’s hard to get your name out of many people because it’s really common. And I also tried a Russian bar. I was loving it. But that is 3 people, and it’s always more complicated than the 2. I always wanted to work with one partner, I really struggled to found my way and thought about what I was made to do, you know. And after that, my coach just made me try this Russian cradle. And it was just for fun. I was really not thinking that I would be a Russian cradle flyer. But then, I started to practice and I was good at it. And I was surprised. That’s cool. And the challenge it was giving me to break the fear of doing things, so incredible. It was, it was hard, because you always train with the security, like, some attachments. And when it’s time to take all them to try without, it’s the feeling of fear.
But you get used to it, and you’re so proud of yourself when you do it. And everything works well. And I just knew at this moment that it was for me. And I just fell in love with it. Then sometimes when I’m a long time without training, I feel like I need this feeling of flying. Yeah, it’s so enjoyable.
Fei Wu 27:03
There are so many parallels between circus and life. And I love how David Williamson says that life is a circus. You know, I think, so many people, listeners, even though they have never been, even seen a circus, needless to say, that they would ever perform that one, they can relate to that. Because we spend a lot of our time thinking: What am I made of? What am I good at? Or is this thing I’ve been doing for 10-20 years is for me? And I love what you’re saying, because you I think you found it because you kept trying, instead of sitting in the corner calculating, perfecting, or just thinking, and I love the fact that all the other guys are thinking: Wow, you’re different, you’re something special.
Yeah. And when I trained, I failed a lot of time, you know. But the goal is to stand up and do it again until you get it, and it’s hard, sometimes frustrating. You go, you want to do this and you’re falling and falling and falling. And sometimes you hurt yourself. And to never give up on something – it’s the best keep of success. And yeah, there will be a hard time in everything you do. It will never be easy. Because if it would be easy, everybody would do it. And I think, I felt my way and myself into Russian cradle, because it just challenged me and I loved it. It’s made for me for sure.
Fei Wu 28:43
Wow. I love to hear that. So you said you fell more than a few times.
Fei Wu 28:51
Well, tell me how do you typically fall, what do you mean by falling from the Russian cradle act? Because you are very high up in the air.
Yeah, well, sometimes one arm can slip and that’s it. I go on the mat straight away. But it depends on which movement because some movements can throw me just straight down. I cannot always know which position I will land in. One time I fell and broke my spine, and I was staying in the hospital for a long time. And I couldn’t walk. But this was not with my husband. It was with another partner for a small contract. And it just didn’t go well. He was missing experience too. And he tried to catch me, but I was too far. So I just land on the stomach with the legs. And I was in the hospital in Spain, nobody was speaking English, it was terrible. But with my husband it’s better, and we fell a couple time on the mats or something. But nothing bad happened. It’s just sometimes I am tired, or I can see some flashback of this accident. And it’s hard on those days. But I trust my husband.
Fei Wu 30:18
Yes, I could see the trust, even when you kind of look into each other’s eyes, even when I’m sitting farther away among the audience, I could just see that chemistry in a way. There’s that love, there’s trust, there’s experience, I could see something similar between the Atherton twins because they’re identical twin brothers. Yeah. I talked to them. There are some similarities. In terms of their act, they’re aerialists, and I remember Andy telling me that he said, if anything happens, he will go down with his brother. He will never let him go. So you experienced that you broke your spine. How long did it take for you to heal from that accident?
A good year. But that was younger. I was 20 just before I entered Cirque du Solei. So this year after this accident, I entered and I started to train with Andrei. But yeah, good year. And I was in the hospital in Spain for like a full week, you know, moving on the morphine, a lot of medicine. Yeah. I couldn’t stand up. It was just difficult. Then when I went home, I was thinking, you know, should I do this again, should I perform again Russian cradle, I have all my brain going to react that through. But I was missing this feeling. And after I made the audition for Cirque du Soleil, they took me for the show, the guys were so big, you know, like I was feeling confident already, and a lot of variances. And when I started to train with Andrei, I really saw that he was trying to make me confident with his eyes. “It’s okay, everything’s gonna be fine”e. You know, and I started to really enjoy it again. And it was easy.
Fei Wu 32:22
I could see it in his eyes. I remember just from Kurious, I felt safe among the audience watching him throw you more than anybody else in the world. Because I didn’t even know that you were married. You’re a couple in real life. But to me, that’s beside the point. But he has that feeling that he’s always going to protect you. He’s always going to be there for you. And there’s something beyond the makeup and the stage, it’s just that pure human connection and relationship that’s so unforgettable for us as an audience, that’s really incredible. And lying in the hospital bed, knowing that something even worse could have happened – and we all think about those things and we get scared – either at that time or in circus school, did you think everything about quitting, to say, this was cool, but not anymore? Did you ever try to talk yourself out of it?
No, I wasn’t. I’m not giving up on that. Maybe I was scared. Maybe. But I never thought that. My parents did, but you know, like, they got scared. And I’m away. And they don’t know if I will walk again or something like that. But no. I never had this in mind, to stop. I’m not a quitter. Never been.
Fei Wu 33:56
Wow. And I’m thinking, looking at all the acts, all the actors, aerialists and acrobats. And I feel that there’s that common sort of theme among you guys, you do love this. I don’t think you could possibly even do it without this. You have to love it.
Yeah, when I was 14 years old, my dream has always been to be a circus artist, so to know where I am today and all the work I did all this year, I feel lucky and I’m really happy because not everybody can do what they love in life. You know, my parents always encouraged me. They never told me I should stop doing that. Because they know I love it that much. And, you know, my friends say to me: I look at your picture on Facebook, and you really did what you wanted in life. And I say yes. I’m really happy. Because, you know, so many people don’t have the choice to do what they want. And it’s sad to think that people go to work every day and don’t like what they do. And for me, it’s a pleasure. You know, sometimes I’m tired. And I would not do my act today because I’m tired. But anyway, when I finish, and I bow in front of all the audience and I see the eyes of some little girls – all this makes me keep doing and that’s why I like my job.
Fei Wu 35:38
Wow. That’s incredible. How did your parents react when they watched you for the first time? Second time? Did your mom have to look away and like, you know, wear blinders? [laughs]
Yeah, of course! [laughs]. And sometimes even on the TV. When I’m beside her and we watch my performance again on the TV, she’s still, like, horrified.
Yeah, my father always pushed me and told me “You can do that”. And always told me that I should be proud of what I do. And my father always has been on this way with me and my mom. Always, even in gymnastic life. Even when I was crying after my competition, he was like: Next time you will do better. And this always encouraged me.
Fei Wu 36:38
Wow, you got the yin and the yang. So yeah. Well, are you the only child by chance?
No, one older brother. But he’s not in the circus, I am
just the only one in the family. The little clown of the family.
Fei Wu 36:57
That’s amazing. Because it’s not that you followed your cousin, your mom, your sibling, or anyone else you knew. This is what you wanted to do.
Yeah. And, you know, when I saw sometimes little girl in the audience with big eyes and watching my performance, this makes me go back in time when I saw my first show. And I was the one like that, and now it’s like the opposite side. It’s such a strange feeling. Because when I saw these little girls, I’m like, well, I wish I can inspire them to do something crazy like that.
Fei Wu 37:42
Yeah, I think you did. There’s no question. You inspire big girls like me to do something useful and meaningful with my life. And when it comes to Cirque du Soleil, to me it’s not entertainment. In fact, I don’t like when people see it as entertainment. I think it’s about life. It’s lessons we need to learn about ourselves, even if we don’t go out there 100 feet in the air and flip around and being tossed around. But there’s something just sitting as part of the audience that, you know, I was learning constantly, and I’m learning in between shows to think about that if you are able to do that if I’m having a tough day here, if I had a tough year, it’s nothing. I can overcome that because what you have portrayed is something that really wasn’t humanly possible. I think you’ve shown little girls, little boys and adults and grandparents the potential that human beings actually have, that we limit ourselves all the time. So tell me a bit about how your day is like? When do you wake up, when you go to the gym and when you go to the show typically?
Depends. Sometimes we have two shows in the day, and then we try to not work out too much in the morning because it’s too much. But when we have one show, usually we try to wake up around 9:30-10, because we finished show late. When we wake up, we take coffee, take a shower and then go to the gym. I do usually some cardio, some exercises on my shoulder, because my shoulder is like, without them I can not work, I need to protect them. So we do a little bit of training, then go grab something to eat, travel in the city, if it’s not too cold. Like here, right now.
And yes, sometimes keep contact with family and friends online and then go do my makeup one hour before the show starts, and ready to go.
Fei Wu 41:14
And a lot of the shows starts at around seven. Or I know sometimes there’s like a nine o’clock show as well. So when do you have to get there? Like, for example, if the show starts at seven. When do you have to be backstage and ready to go?
Well, here, with 1903, because it’s in a theater, there is different than in a big tent. Because in the big tent, usually, you can be there all the time. But in the theater, they have limited hours and you cannot be there all the time. So the call is a half an hour before the show. But for some people like me, we need more time for the air, and I’m arriving one hour before the show. But some people like the contortionist, for example, she has a lot of stretching to do. So she arrives about an hour and a half before the show. So it depends for everybody. You know, the guys have to do one line and the little bit air sprint. It’s it’s easier.
And but for the girls, you know, right now, we don’t have a complicated makeup. So it’s very fast. It’s easy. It’s casual. It’s just more the air, because the air style is really from 1903, and it’s a little bit different. So just the air takes a little bit more.
Fei Wu 42:35
Do you have a preference for working in a theater versus the tent? What do you like more?
I think it’s hard to say because in a tent the public is on almost 360. This is a little bit more challenging. Because you have to play for everybody around. When you are in the theater, they are all in front. So you always play for them in front. For my husband, it’s harder for him to play all around. For me, it’s easier, because I do a lot of movement, and I dance, and I can see everybody, but for him it is limited. So it’s hard to say. I think I would say theater.
Fei Wu 43:20
And backstage, I think it’s bigger. I like the look and feel of a tent. But I remember seeing the space in the backstage is limited. There’s like one shower, there’s where clothing rack, it is just hard to be a woman to say “I need a lot of space for my stuff”.
Yeah, because you do your makeup in the small case that you open and close, you know. And it’s not like that in the theater. We have our space for a couple, me and Andrei, we are in one room. There’s a shower in the bathroom. Yeah. So you feel better like for this. Also, you can have an opportunity to warm up. Here we don’t have two Russian cradle setups, we have only one that is set up on stage, but in Kurious, we had two, we had one backstage and one on stage. So you can practice it. So there’s the good and bad from both.
Fei Wu 44:27
Yeah, I saw you practice backstage and how concentrated how focused you were. It was lovely. I’d love to ask you a little bit about kind of, you know, you have really good skin and then you’re very thin, you’re very fit, so people must ask you about your diet and how you keep yourself healthy all the time. What’s your secret?
The secret is, for sure, a lot of running, a lot of cardio to burn the calories. But yeah, I tried to eat really light meals, especially because of what I do, I cannot eat every before doing acrobatics anyway, I don’t feel good, and I like to feel light. So, for this reason, I try not to take anything with too much oil and fried. You know, meals like a chicken with vegetables. I love vegetables. I can eat salad just this all day. I think it’s because I got used to eating vegetables. And now it’s kind of my life. I’ve been vegetarian for four years before, and I think at this point, it’s really changed my way to eat and to be able to like control my weight. Because some people don’t have knowledge about nutrition. And I had a class of nutrition. So I really learned all on how to keep the body lean. And I can gain some time weight on the vacation, but I have the knowledge on how to burn it after, when we come back to training. So yeah, a lot of vegetable, fish and light meat. And of course, this is not bad for the body.
Fei Wu 46:15
But very low carb. It’s like very little bread and rice. That type of deal.
Yeah. But you know, I also take supplements to not have missing of vitamins or energy and everything. Omega 3, you know, I have my supplement to feel good anyway. Because some people sometimes do not eat enough and miss it. So yeah, you just need to know how to treat your body, to ask the energy to do what you do, to keep yourself healthy.
Fei Wu 46:47
But I’m curious, what the some of the supplements you take other than omega three, which I also take?
I take a CLA, which is good fat, omega three, fat burner. Usually, it’s from one brand that I love. It’s to help to promote fat burn during the day. And my probiotic.
Fei Wu 47:11
Yeah. Probiotics, that’s great.
And also, usually, before the bed or in the morning after training, I take yogurt with protein, like lean protein, to have at least protein, but not a lot of fat from that. So this is the supplements that I take daily.
Fei Wu 47:35
Wow. I have them sitting on the counter. I do forget to take them sometimes. I think I’m ready for Cirque.
Yeah. Sometimes when you start to take them, you forget. But I put them all the time at the same place where I know that I will wake up in the morning and take my vitamins. And then I’m set. You know, it’s a routine. So I don’t forget.
Fei Wu 48:00
Super smart. I find that people like yourself have a really stringent routine that works for you. Also, I think about your luggage, cause the space is very limited, and you’re on the move all the time. It must be really challenging. You’re on the road all the time. I mean, how do you pack and how do you find time to do other things?
Well, before I started packing, it was anxiety, panic, you know, and what I do. But now, because we travel often, I have my routine. When we arrive at one place, I open my luggage, I install everything that I would need: my cream, my peels, I install everything where I would put it normally. And once everything is installed, then I’m set, I chose what I don’t need, I leave it in the luggage. And after I’m set, usually I need that my husband is not there when I’m installing. I think I just the routine now, I know when it’s time to pack, we pack one day before leaving. You know, all my space and my luggage has like special compartments for this thing and this thing. So it’s just easy now. But before it was a mess.
Fei Wu 49:37
How big is your luggage, is it standard? Or like extra big?
Yeah, two standard pieces of luggage. I mean, for me and my husband.
Fei Wu 49:47
Wow. So you each of you have luggage, basically, with all your life. Things packed in there. People say that being a part of the circus is hard. Because you spent a lot of time away from your family and friends. What is that like for you? How much time per year roughly are you on the road? When do you see your family?
Yeah, sometimes it really depends on the contracts, right now we are on the road with 1903, but we have sometimes one week off between, so this week I can go home and see my family. But other time, when I was on a permanent contract with Kurious, it was like once a year for two weeks you leave. But, you know, now we have Skype, we have Facebook, so this is a big plus for us because we keep the connection and we don’t feel that we don’t see them. But, for sure, nothing is comparable to the real time with your mom or your dad. Now I’ve been one week at home and I’ll go back one week at home in two weeks. So I see them, and they will come to visit in New York, so it really depends on which contract, which company you have.
Fei Wu 51:05
So when do you have time to hang out, to be silly and to even drink at all? I don’t really drink, but I understand why people in your profession need to relax and do all that.
Well, our day is mostly free, so all these things, the activity I can do usually during the day. But yeah, usually, when we do the first show of the city, we have a premiere party, or when we finish a city we have an “end of the city” party. So it’s basically with our cast, like, at the end or at the beginning of the week we just have a little fun and everything, and when we do the transfer, we sometimes drink a little bit and relax. But yeah, sometimes with one day off per week you feel that you don’t have the opportunity to rest or to party, but you can be three weeks on the work and then you have one week off, where you can be silly and crazy and just go on the beach or whatever. And do whatever you want.
Fei Wu 52:20
Huh, that’s so fun. Well, thank you so much! I almost feel like it was rapid fire questions. And I wanted to know how it all works together. What is it like, to be a self-made and traveling artists like yourself. And that’s so fascinating. And you’re incredible. I really feel so thankful and appreciative for your work. But also, when we met for the first time, you’re so warm and you’re very accepting of people approaching you. and you clearly possess so much talent when it comes to the circus, as well as in life. And I’m just so thrilled to have this conversation.
That’s awesome. I’m so thankful that you have been interested in my life and my carrier. That’s awesome to have somebody that wants to interview you, to know about your life. Thank you so much.
Fei Wu 53:19
Oh, you’re so welcome. Have a good evening! Yeah, you take care. Bye.
Fei Wu 53:33
Hi there. It’s me again, I want to thank you very much for listening to this episode. And I hope you were able to learn a few things. If you enjoy what you heard, you’ll be hugely helpful if you could subscribe to the Faceworld podcast. It literally takes seconds if you’re on your mobile phone. Just search for Faceworld podcast in the podcast app on iPhone or an Android app, such as Podcast Addict, and click “subscribe”. All new episodes will be delivered to you automatically. Thanks so much for your support.