Atherton Twins: Human flight made possible
Andrew and Kevin Atherton are living my childhood dreams. I had to put them on this podcast. Did you dream about flying as a child? I did, nearly every single day. I loved reading comic books and imagined myself as a superhero. I often dressed like one as soon as I came home from school.
Recently, my Mom and I went to see our first Cirque du Soleil show in Boston. The show was called Varekai. While every single act was extraordinary, there was one particular segment that left both of us perpetually in awe. Two very similar looking men flew across the entire stadium over the heads of thousands of audience, then balancing on their heads and hands 50+ ft in the air. Their formations looked like paintings, statues and art we had not witnessed before. They are superheroes to me.
As soon as I returned from show, I looked up "Varekai aerialists straps" and found Andrew and Kevin Atherton, identical twins, the original performers and creators behind Varekai duo-straps. I emailed them right away without expecting a response. To my surprise, they replied within 24 hours with such enthusiasm to join me on Feisworld.
To prep for my interview, I sourced questions from Facebook and Twitter to add to my list. During our conversation, I discovered that Andrew and Kevin are amazing storytellers who not only answered all the questions, but also dove deep into how they engage each other on stage as well as their intimate connections with the audience. "We bring them on stage with us!"
Andrew and Kevin were born and raised in the UK. They were professional gymnasts for 17 years before transitioning to aerialists at Cirque du Soleil for 16 years so far with no sign of slowing down. They both recently decided to create a new show and move to New York City in 2016. They will be announcing details and sharing behind-the-scenes updates with you via the News section of their brand new website.
In fact, the twins and I hit it off so well during the podcast that we collaborated on creating this new website to showcase their work! More to come from this collaboration...
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Show Notes (Time is Approximate):
- How do you introduce yourselves to others / strangers for the first time? [07:15]
- Telling us about your upbringing (in UK), family dynamics and your introduction to gymnastics [9:45]
- What was it like growing up as identical twins (1 in every 286 birth)? And what was it like to compete with a twin brother? [11:45]
- What was it like to represent Great Britain in international gymnastics competitions? [17:00]
- The difference between gymnastic regimen today compared to when you were training and competing at a young age? [18:30]
- Cirque du Soleil - Varekai: together you performed over 3000 shows and never missed a single one, how was this even possible? What do you do when you get sick? [20:00]
- How do you communicate or signal to each other during the show? What do you do if things go wrong? [24:00]
- Cirque: what's "formation" training? What were the challenges for you two to work together at the beginning? [24:45]
- What was the transition like going from gymnastics to performing art? [28:15]
- Who were your inspirations? [32:15]
- With or without makeup, how does it impact your emotions and performance? [35:30]
- What's the feeling you would like to leave with their audience? [37:45]
- How do you prepare yourself before the show? [40:30]
- What are your roles throughout the show, assume you are playing other characters as well? [45:00]
- How do you manage your personal lives (family, training etc.) if you have to perform twice a day, 5 days a week? [47:00]
- First 60 mins of your day, what's your routine? [48:30]
- What are your other interests and passion outside of Cirque? [50:30]
- Shaking up, never settle - what are you going to do next? [52:30]
- What does it mean to each of you you to live a meaningful and fulfilling life? [60:00]
Resources (People, Organizations, Links mentioned on the show):
- Yves Decoste and one of the early reviews of Quidam in Variety
- The Athertons' Official Website
- Cirque dul Soleil
"Best of all, though, is one that is again seemingly simple. Called Main a Main, Vis Versa, the act features a man and a woman (Yves Decoste and Marie-Laure Mesnage) who perform a slow, sensuous, impossibly strenuous act of strength and balance. Their bodies powdered a cadaverous white, they fulfill our desire for superhuman feats, her body stretching out parallel to the ground while only her shoulders rest on his body." - Variety.com, link above.