We Watch Performers Do Crazy Tricks at the Cirque Du Soleil Auditions
See also: Our slideshow of the Cirque du Soleil auditions
Watching a Cirque du Soleil show is so trippy you'll be convinced someone slipped a tab of acid on your tongue. Last week, the circus traveled to L.A.'s Kinetic Theory searching for new talent.
Apparently, it's not enough to be a human Gumby whose limbs seem made out of Laffy Taffy. Lisa Jones, one of the scouts presiding over the auditions, says a performer must have great technical ability first and foremost. But she's able to discern that from video submissions. It's all the acts who made it past that cut who were invited to the live auditions, where Jones had to decide whether they have the ability to connect with, and express their emotions to, an audience.
"They also just have to have ..." she pauses, searching for the right word. "That sparkle, that something that just jumps out at you."
We watched, tried not to gasp audibly at the tricks and talked to a few of the performers who, to us, met all the requirements.
Simone Lazer, 23
Specialty: Aerialist. This is only her second audition ever.
Began Training: 22, but did classical ballet intensely since age 7
Training regimen: I try to eat pretty healthy. Get enough protein, fruits and vegetables and drink enough water. Try to sleep enough. When I'm training as much as I like to, it's six days a week for three hours at the least. But it could be the whole day.
Hardest part of her act: The re-spin makes me the most nervous. It's where I spin down to the ground, then spin back up again. It's not a strength or flexibility thing; it's just grounding yourself and then going right back into spinning. The neck hang actually came pretty easily to me. It's not scary once you figure out the strength and coordination. It makes my neck tight, but it's also the chest and shoulders. It definitely gets a good response, which is why it's my ending trick.
Mental characteristic imperative for being a circus performer: Persistence and consistency.
Did she get called back? Yes
Sam Ortiz, 23
Specialties: Aerialist, contortionist
Began Training: 21
Training regimen: I eat healthily -- no soda, no coffee. Practice two to four hours per day or every other day. If I can't make it to Train Circus, I'll swim or run or hike. I was really flexible as it was, so this fell into my lap.
Hardest part of being a circus performer: Learning to take things one step at a time. I'm not the most patient person in the world, and it takes time to hone in and perfect this. Also, dealing with all the cuts and bruises you get every day. Even today, I had a callous come off in the middle of the act. I don't even feel it; it doesn't hurt. A lot of your nerves get used to it or deadened. You just deal with it. It doesn't faze you.
Has he ever fallen? I have a couple times, mostly training. One time I was working with fabric and I didn't wrap myself properly. I bruised a bunch of my ribs and ended up with some major rug burns.
Mental characteristic imperative for being a circus performer: You have to be pretty fearless. You have to go into it knowing you're going to get hurt. I've torn muscles, tendons. Rope burns, scars, calluses.
Did he get called back? No