A group of burly, chiselled men take turns spinning around a gymnast bar and flinging themselves off to heights that seem to defy gravity, twisting and contorting in the air, then effortlessly completing the perfect landing. No, they’re not training for the Olympics – though some of these guys have competed there before – it’s the world famous French-Canadian extravaganza Cirque du Soleil.
They’re in town for a month, and The Bogotá Post got a special backstage glimpse into a day in the life of an acrobat, and the training regime required to maintain the level of fitness and perfection demanded of them to dazzle the crowd night after night.
There is little rest for these performers, who hail from virtually every corner of the globe – and are sought out by the company for their unique combination of athleticism and artistic prowess – as they perform six nights a week.
The institution that is Cirque du Soleil can have as many as 19 different shows running worldwide at any given time. Each varies in terms of theme and focus; some being more artsy, while others are more focused on the acrobatics. The Bogota show – known as Corteo – falls neatly into the latter category.
“It’s about the funeral procession of a clown, and you see his life through the different acts” says American acrobat Chris Gatti, 33, who joined the show in September 2014.
In spite of the rigours of a regimented lifestyle, the performers are not left wanting for creative freedom. During training, if something feels right and the performer wants to explore a new set of moves or a new routine, they are encouraged to do so.
Says Gatti: “We have base acts that we follow but there’s definitely a lot of artistic freedom and acrobatic freedom. So if we want to come up with new sequences, we can work on them and show them to a coach and generally put them in a show. So it’s very liberating in that respect.”
By Mark Kennedy / Photos: DiegoArango