Cirque Du Soleil Q&A

Acrobat and gymnast Alona Zhuravel talks about what it takes to stay fit.

Cirque Du Soleil performance featuring Russian swings.

Rick Diamond

The artistic and athletic Cirque Du Soleil performers come to Central Texas as Varekai is showing at the Cedar Park Center Feb. 26-March 1. Austin Fit Magazine recently visited with Alona Zhuravel, a Russian performer with the tour.

With the Olympics going on in your home country, were you able to watch them at all?

I try to watch as much as I can, although I can't say that I am a big fan of winter Olympics, but I like figure skating and hockey. I try to keep up with it and watch as I can.

Can you relate to the training that the Olympians go through to prepare for their events?

I am not sure who is training harder. It starts very early. Acrobats start early. Gymnasts and all the sports athletes, they start very early. It takes a lot of time and patience. A lot of tears. A lot of sweat. I guess not everyone has a childhood like normal kids, because it requires a lot of training and discipline.

What is your training regimen like?

I do workout everyday. I go running about an hour a day. It is not particularly necessary for my work, but it is to keep me in shape and a workout for myself. For my performance I need to stretch everyday, stand on my hands, repeat my skills--just not get out of shape. I need to stay as professional as possible.

With your skill set, did you ever aspire to be an Olympian?

My skills do not have anything to do with the Olympics. I always like to watch Olympics. I like to watch gymnastics and all the athletes. But no, for me I think the circus has different goals.

What is your role in the Cirque du Soleil performance?

I play one of the main characters. I balance on things. I stand on my hands but no flying up in the air. I am not that kind of artist. I do some aerial appearances, but that is not my kind of skill.

Growing up, were you a dancer or a gymnast? When did you know that you wanted to perform for Cirque du Soleil?

I grew up in the circus. My parents were both from the circus, but my dad was a gymnast. For me, Cirque du Soleil was always a dream. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be part of the company and to tour with them. So two years ago my dream came true. My whole life, I was touring with a German circus in Germany and afterwards mostly in Europe for other circuses. I auditioned in Brussels, and two years after my audition they contacted me.

How long will you be on this tour?

For now, I know that I will be here until the end of 2014. But then we will see.

How many cities will you be performing in?

This particular show is on tour for 12 years, and I am part of it for two years. It is a very different tour plan. Usually we stay in every city for a month at least. This show, every week is a new city. We are in South America, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Chile. It is a very big bonus to the work I am doing, it is a very big plus.

Has working for Cirque du Soleil been a rewarding experience for you?

I think working for Cirque du Soleil is a good experience for every artist. It is a very good school to go to. I have been performing for 12 years now, but I have still learned so many new things. Even just doing your makeup everyday in this particular way. For every artist, you do your makeup but not as extravagant as this one. To perform every single day is also a challenge. The audience changes everyday, you know, so you can really show them if you are in a bad mood. They don’t care; they pay money to see the show how it is supposed to be. If one day I am not in a good mood--no that can not that happen. I am trying to do my best everyday to give the people what they pay for.

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