IGOR KARPOV, 37 HEAD ACROBATICS COACH
C irque Du Soleil’s January shows at the Royal Albert Hall have become as much of a new year tradition as fireworks over the River Thames. This year, Koozå returns for its second London outing, mixing clowning with spectacular acrobatic acts.
Many old circus favourites are updated, from hoop spinners and contortionists to trapeze artists and high-wire acts. Others are Cirque specialities: in the heartin-mouth Wheel Of Death, two performers leap in and out of two giant hamster wheels spinning on each end of a vast, rotating pendulum; the thrilling teeterboard act that closes the show is like a giant seesaw in which one performer stands at one end, and is sent hurtling through the air when two others jump on to the other end. On stilts.
Having just celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, Cirque has played to nearly 150 million people on six continents, with revenues approaching $1 billion a year. So what is it like to run off and join the circus? We asked two Cirque veterans and one newcomer.
WHY CIRQUE? It is breathtaking, unbelievable. You cannot describe it in words. I’ve been a gymnast since I was six years old − I was in the Russian junior squad, then I moved to England when I was 18 and lived there for 13 years. I got a wrist injury, so ended up doing a lot of coaching at different clubs. In 2008, I got a call from Cirque Du Soleil. I’d wanted to work with them ever since seeing Alegría six years before. A TYPICAL DAY: No two days are ever the same; Cirque is like a living, breathing organism. If it’s a two-show day, we have maybe just one or two training sessions, otherwise we’ll have quite a few sessions on stage with different acts. We take a very high level of acrobat: some have been doing it for 40 years and are very knowledgeable. On the other hand, we have brand-new people coming in all the time. MY LONDON: I really love my food, so I’m looking forward to a good English breakfast, with sausages, eggs and beans − it’s not the same anywhere else! I like the diversity of London, trying different cuisines. When you’re travelling the world, you can never get a great curry like you can buy in London.