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Spotlight: The Thrills and Spills of Life in the Cirque Du Soleil

Poolside’s Spotlight series puts the focus on inspirational women, setting out to live with a difference.

The Cirque Du Soleil is one of the most famous circuses across the globe, and since its creation in 1984 has entertained over 400 million people with daring acrobatics, incredible stunts and jaw-dropping feats across 6 continents and 86 countries.
This week for our Spotlight series we caught up with Cirque Du Soleil performer Helena on how she stays motivated, inspired and content while at the very top of her game.
Talking about how she landed her lead role, Helena said “I started gymnastics when I was 5 years old and saw my first Circus show when I was 7. Watching the show with stars in my eyes, I never forgot my introduction into the world of Cirque du Soleil with their big top show, Quidam. It remained a dream of mine while I was competing various gymnastics disciplines here in Australia. I was actually on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series when the opportunity to join Luzia came up, it was a tough decision but joining Cirque du Soleil was a dream since I had been seven years old, so I left my permanent position on the World Tour”
She left with good reason though, landing one of the coveted parts in Cirque Du Soleil’s Luiza, a show inspired by the people, places and stories that define Mexico, “I am a somewhat of a generalist on Luzia, I do a few group disciplines which are Hoop Diving, Acrobatic Poles and Swing to Swing. Every other day, I share the role of one of the main characters, the “Running Woman” with Olivia Apeli as well. I am grateful to be able to play the role as it challenges me in new ways. I have to guide the audience through our world, sometimes alone, in front of 2000+ people. The character is less acrobatic, so finding other physical vocabulary has been very interesting!”
Embarking on a role that demands such intense fitness and physicality requires an intense training program to maintain the level needed to perform at the highest level day after day.
“The show schedule is probably the most intense component, we can do up to ten shows a week and three shows per day. For many people the hardest work has been earlier in life, but we need to focus to stay well rounded and maintain the skills that we have. I love training and pushing my body but the show will always be the priority. I do like to push myself, outside and on top of the show and this way, the show becomes easier.”
“The achievements that touch me the most may not seem like the most incredible from the outside as they are no extreme feats if you put them in perspective of what is being achieved day to day by world class athletes or other circus performers. The diving coach Emerson Neves (currently the Head Coach on Luzia) encouraged me to do a 25m high dive in a previous show that we worked on. It hadn’t been done by females before, but after I had, there were many other ladies who did. Partly timing, circumstance and this was not some kind of world record, other females had done dives higher than this, but it opened the door for so many other females.”
“I was also proud that I could show the people who doubted it or said that it was too hard for a female body. Not to mention, getting over my own self doubt. In essence, I am not known for being a high level athlete or coming from intensive circus training so the achievements that I am most proud of are ones that I have worked hard for or if they have inspired anyone to try it too”

With such success, Helena isn’t a stranger to moments of self-doubt and using them to better herself.
 “I like to these moments as fuel for motivation or training. I try to see past the emotions and look at the cause and how I can take action to get past it or feel more comfortable. I like to know that I have done everything I can to prepare myself physically and mentally if I have had self-doubt. In other situations, “just going for it” has opened so many doors in my life and led to opportunities that I never would have imagined. As long as there has been significantly more to win than lose, throwing myself in, where I am not comfortable, has been very rewarding.”
“Small failures are the basis of so many of our physical capabilities in Circus. I have just learnt a trick that I had been trying non-stop for months. Every time I failed, I knew it was still a step toward achieving the trick. Failures, in a safe or controlled environment, also teach us what to do if something does go wrong, which is incredibly important.”
“A lot of my inspiration comes from those around me. I am so fortunate to have so many inspiring and motivated people around me everyday in the big top. I am seriously in awe of the density of talent contained under one tent, and not just the artists. The Hoop Diving team has certainly been one of my biggest supports and motivators here on Luzia.”
Helena adds “My advice to anyone would be to just do it! Throw yourself in the deep end because if you have the passion, a lot of motivation will come from there. If you don’t achieve what you want, there is likely to be so much that you have learnt, maybe it is that you don’t really like that particular thing enough to pursue it, it’s much better to know than spend a life wondering. I think that leading your life through your passions is truly fulfilling.”
Speaking about what she would like to look back on her life and be proud of, Helena reflects “I hope that the show I am a part of can inspire someone as I was when I was 7 years old when I saw my first show. I hope to get anyone out of their daily rut or struggle, to drift away into another world that is live, right there in front of them. To devote 15 years to my goal, because of a 2 hour show can tell you how important and powerful live entertainment can be.
Finally when reflecting on her overall goal Helena concludes, “This was my life goal, which makes things tricky! However, I think to be completely fulfilled in it, there is still a way to go!”

In a series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA takes audiences on a surreal escape to an imaginary Mexico –a sumptuously vibrant world suspended between dreams and reality. Smoothly passing from an old movie set to the ocean to a smoky dance hall or an arid desert, LUZIA journeys through a colorful tapestry of multiple places, faces and sounds
of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity.

Poetically guided by light (‘luz’ in Spanish) and rain (‘lluvia’), LUZIA chronicles the encounters of a parachuted traveler with the culture, nature and mythology of a dreamlike land inhabited by a mystifying menagerie of characters. Refreshing and unexpected, LUZIA enchants by artistically incorporating water into the acrobatic presentation – a first for a Cirque du Soleil touring production.
 Book your tickets here:


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